Romney’s Strategic Focus Away from Evangelicals to Catholics

   Bookmark and Share   With a highly polarized electorate and pundits and polls pointing to an election that we are led to believe is still very close, each campaign for President is finding themselves having to sharpen their focus on specific voting blocs in specific states.   Foregoing any embarrassing October or early November surprises for President Obama or Governor Romney, states like California, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Utah, and others, are so far in the bag for one campaign or the other that the candidates are not visiting them and only running the most minimal of ads in them.  But states like Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin are somewhere in the middle and with the right approach, many uncommitted and undecided voters can easily be swayed to vote one way the other.  So Romney and Obama are campaigning hard in those states.  But among the voters in those states are voting blocs that can be appealed to on sets of issues that tend to affect them more than others.

For Mitt Romney one of the most crucial voting blocs to target are Catholics, a segment of the electorate that often does not receive the  political attention it deserves and is often more homogeneous as voting bloc than politicians assume.

Catholics comprise approximately 25% of the American electorate and since 1972, every single presidential candidate who has won the popular vote has also won the Catholic vote.  Additionally, in the last 5 presidential elections the Catholic vote total mirrored within 1 percent, the total popular vote received by the winner.   This indicates that in addition to being a significant portion of the electorate, the Catholic vote is also a swing vote which is a pretty good bellwether of national election results.

During the Republican presidential primaries, it was the Evangelical vote was a critical determining factor in the fate of Mitt Romney candidacy.  But since then, the Evangelical vote seems to have solidified behind Romney, or at the very least, against Barack Obama.  So while they will play an important role in Romney’s Get-Out-The-Vote operation, Catholics are for now one of the primary voting blocs that Mitt Romney is trying to convince to vote for him (see video of his latest ad at the bottom of this post).

And the strategy is a good one.

In recent years, Catholics have been offended by what some call the War on Christmas.  It is a hyperbolic term that refers to a very real liberal based, societal and federal enforced agnosticism which does everything from force municipalities to call Christmas trees Holiday trees to banning nativity scenes and menorah from the public square.  This disturbing trend to deny the freedom of religious expression even once forced Federated Department Stores, which includes Macy’s, to “ban” their employees from saying “Merry Christmas” to customers.  It is a trend which Rick Perry skillfully but unsuccessfully tried to exploit when he was competing for the Republican presidential nomination last year.

This liberal, politically correct based assault on public desires to express their faith has long annoyed Catholics but in 2012, Catholic sensitivities to the issue have only been exacerbated by President Obama and his signature accomplishment… Obamacare.

Among the Affordable Care Act’s  nearly three thousand pages of regulations is a clause which in 2011, the Obama Administration concluded to mean that many church-affiliated institutions will have to cover free birth control for employees.   This has outraged religious groups and fueled a national debate about the continued overreach of government and the ongoing  federal regulatory infringements being placed on  religion.  Leading this charge against this latest assault is a Catholic… New York City Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

Dolan calls the new Obamacare mandate “a dramatic, radical intrusion of a government bureaucracy into the internal life of the Church”, and states that it forces Catholics to oppose their own conscience.

The issue has intensified anti-Obama sentiments among a large portion of Catholics, even among those whose religious fervor may not find them in church each and every Sunday.  To them the mandate has become another symbol of excessive government control that in this case goes so far that it actually forces religious institutions to participate in that which it is considers to be sinful.  In this case, the sin of abortion.

The situation has made the Obama-Biden ticket extremely vulnerable to attack and Mitt Romney knows it.  So he is making it an issue in these closing days of the campaign and he is doing so in a strategically smart way.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, as it becomes more important than ever to win over non-ideological, non-partisan independent voters, Romney is avoiding the harsh terms that the Obama campaign uses when they wage class warfare or claim Republicans are waging a “war on women”.  So Romney is not out on the stump and campaigning on this federal infringement on religion by using phrases like “war on religion”.  Instead while out on the campaign trail, Romney will make brief mention of the issue, he is relying mainly on short ads that are being played to target audiences in targeted states and which through repetition, are driving the point home to independent voters who are sensitive to government overreach and concerned Catholic voters disturbed by continued federal infringement on religious liberty.

But the importance of the Catholic is not lost on Barack Obama either.  That is why his campaign’s surrogates have taken their own approach to winning them over.

As first told by Deal W. Hudson for Catholic Online, Obama operatives have been calling Catholic voters with a push poll that ask several pointed questions such as; “How can you support a Mormon who does not believe in Jesus Christ? And “What do you think about the “Nuns on the Bus” who support Obama?”

Push Polls are primarily an unethical interactive marketing technique, which campaigns use in attempt  to influence or alter the opinions of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll.  In this case the underhanded tactic is ironically exploiting religion by trying to incite anti-Mormon religious bigotry against mitt Romney.  It would be akin to a Romney campaign operation that called White Southern Evangelicals and intentionally used a question to make the President’s color an issue.  Such a racist act would surely be turned in a media inspired “October Surprise” that would derail the Romney campaign.  But such is not the case among a national mainstream media whose obvious liberal biases allow their own politically bigotry to run rampant and neglect to hold the Obama-Biden mpaign caaccountable for anything it does.

Meanwhile, Romney is smartly and ethically pursuing the Catholic vote by appealing to them on the issues… issues which have been leading Catholics to trend towards Republicans more and more over the past few elections.  It’s a trend which Romney may be able to have its best chance to exploit in Ohio, a swing state that is as, or more important than other battleground state that Mitt needs to win the Electoral College and which contains the type of blue collar, Reagan-Democrat, Catholic voters that Romney must win to put Ohio in his column.

Two other states that fall in to that category include Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, both of which are states that will make it nearly impossible for President Obama to win reelection without.

And as Romney makes his case, Catholics are also doing their part to make their case for Romney.

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