As a midterms approach, Catholics in key battleground states are focusing on the economy National Catholic Register

A large majority of likely Catholic voters in six key battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania — are looking at the economy, including jobs, according to results from a new EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll in the weeks leading up to the 2022 midterm elections , inflation and rising interest rates, as the most pressing problem facing America.

In hotly contested Georgia, for example, 67.1% of Catholic voters put the economy first, while in Florida the issue rises to 67.6%. Overall, Catholics across the six states rank the economy the most important, averaging 63.1%. Catholic voters’ economic concerns dwarf all other issues, including immigration and border security (11.4%), abortion (7.3%), climate change (7.2%), healthcare (4.5%) and crime ( 3.7%).

EWTN News/RealClear Poll on Topic of Concern.(Photo: EWTN News)

Conducted by the Trafalgar Group Oct. 14-18, this third and final EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll for the 2022 election surveyed more than 500 likely Catholic voters in each of the six battleground states. It has an error rate of 4.1% at a 95% confidence level.

Catholics’ focus on the economy is a key element in another key finding of the poll: President Biden faces strong disapproval from likely Catholic voters in six key battleground states, even if Republican candidates lead either Senate in the six surveyed states and gubernatorial races or are competitive against their Democratic rivals.

approval of the President

In each of the contested states, President Biden suffers strong opposition from Catholic voters, with an average dislike of 62.2% in the six states and an average approval of 35.4%.

Notably, 57.5% of likely Catholic voters strongly disapprove of his job performance, while only 12.2% strongly support him. Four of the states polled in the poll (Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania) were won by Biden in the 2020 presidential election, albeit narrowly, and in all four he now faces an uphill battle to win back disaffected Catholic voters.

EWTN News/RealClear Poll on Presidential Approval.
EWTN News/RealClear Poll on Presidential Approval.(Photo: EWTN News)

In Georgia, among likely Catholic voters, he has an overall disapproval rate of 68.3%. Similarly, in Arizona, 58.5% of Catholics oppose it; in Nevada 63.3% disagree and in Pennsylvania 56.5%. In two of those embattled states won by Donald Trump, Florida and Ohio, the President faces general disapproval of 61.4% and 62.4%, respectively.

While the well-documented gap between active Catholics who attend Mass daily or weekly and those who don’t attend regularly remains in this new poll, there is a consensus among all Catholics about their disapproval of the work President Biden is doing.

However, the strongest source of Catholic disapproval of the President is those who attend Mass daily, or at least weekly.

In Pennsylvania, disapproval of his work is more than 70% among daily and weekly communicants, while his average approval rate among Catholic voters who attend annually or less frequently is about 45%.

Similar numbers are found across all battleground states, with daily and weekly mass-goers having far more negative opinions of the second Catholic president than those who attend less frequently.

The president’s political troubles among Catholics are not helping the position of Democrats on the front lines of both the gubernatorial and Senate elections in the contested six states.

In the races to determine who controls the US Senate, the poll found that Republican candidates for the Senate were all ahead heading into the midterms.

EWTN News/RealClear poll on key Senate races.
EWTN News/RealClear poll on key Senate races.(Photo: EWTN News)

In Arizona, Republican Blake Masters is now just ahead of Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, 51.4% to 46.3%. In Florida, Republican Senator Marco Rubio leads Democrat Val Demings 59.1% to 36.9%. In Georgia, Republican Herschel Walker leads 64.7% to 32.7% ahead of Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. Republican Adam Laxalt of Nevada leads Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto 56.7% to 36.4%. And in Ohio, Republican JD Vance leads Democrat Tim Ryan 55.5% to 41.0%.

Once again, the daily and weekly attendance of Catholics is proving crucial to the electoral advantage Republican candidates currently have across the six states.

The results are very similar in the gubernatorial races across the six states. Only in Pennsylvania is a Democratic poll ahead of the Republican, as Democrat Josh Shapiro has a slim lead over Republican nominee Doug Mastriano, 50.8% to 44.5%. In Arizona, Republican Kari Lake narrowly leads 52.5% to 46.9% ahead of Democrat Katie Hobbs. Nearby, in Nevada, Republican Joe Lombardo is ahead of Democrat Steve Sisolak, 55.6%-34.2%. In Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp comfortably leads Stacey Abrams 67.1% to 31.1%. In Ohio, Republican Mike DeWine leads Democrat Nan Whaley 61.3% to 34.4%. And in Florida, Republican presumptive nominee Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading Democrat Charlie Crist 61.4% to 34.5% in his run for re-election as governor.

EWTN News/RealClear poll on key Senate races.
EWTN News/RealClear gubernatorial race poll.(Photo: EWTN News)

Abortion on the ballot

While the economy is the main driving force for Catholics in deciding how to vote in the midterms, the Democrats’ move is to focus so intensely on abortion after the coup Roe v. calf by the Supreme Court in June does not appear to have succeeded.

Catholics in the six states surveyed ranked abortion as the third most important issue for the country, behind the economy and immigration/border security.

While abortion remains a contentious issue for Catholics, despite the Church’s clear teaching against it, Catholics across all subgroups of Mass-goers do not see abortion as the most pressing issue in America for the election.

In Nevada, for example, 46.2% of Catholics who attend Mass only once a year responded that a woman should be able to have an abortion at any time throughout her pregnancy. This is a shocking figure, but only 2.8% of these Catholics believe abortion is the most pressing issue for the election.

At the same time, the vast majority of Catholics in all six states want restrictions or regulations on abortion.

EWTN News/RealClear Abortion Poll.
EWTN News/RealClear Abortion Poll.(Photo: EWTN News)

In Pennsylvania, 81% of all likely Catholic voters want some restrictions; in Florida, 82.5% want restrictions; and in Georgia, 84% support restrictions.

This puts most Catholic voters in opposition to the Democratic candidates, who have broadly opposed any restrictions on abortion and have unanimously called for abortion to be codified Roe v. calf into federal law.

When it comes to the question of the effect DobbsA majority of Catholics in the six states, on average 59.1%, support the idea that elected officials and ballots should decide where abortion policy should be decided, rather than judges and courts.

This view would be the result of Dobbs Decision that sent the abortion issue to the states.

Catholic Hispanic voters

The Hispanic Catholic vote is another potentially significant group to watch in the midterm elections, especially as polls by EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research have identified a movement of Hispanic Catholics away from the Democratic Party and toward the Republican Party.

This was reflected in the September poll, which showed a significant drop in support for President Biden among Hispanic Catholics.

The Hispanic Catholic vote in battleground states varies in size, but three states worth considering are Arizona, Nevada and Florida given their potential influence. In Nevada, President Biden has 72.8% job disapproval versus 26.7% approval. In Florida, among Hispanics, his disapproval rate is 60.2% and approval rate is 35.6%. Arizona’s Hispanics, on the other hand, make up 31% of the state’s total population, and within the Hispanic Catholic community, Joe Biden’s approval is a key outlier, with 45.8% agreeing versus 52.3% disagreeing.

This slightly stronger support for the Democratic Party carries over into the Senate and governorship races, and Hispanic Catholics support Mark Kelly over Blake Masters 53.6% to 46.4% and Katie Hobbs over Kari Lake 53.6% up to 46.4%.

While the Hispanic Catholic population is small in states like Pennsylvania or Ohio, in Arizona it could prove to be a determining factor in several major races.

Believe in the real presence

Each state is of course different, with its own demographic, political and cultural dimensions.

However, the survey found some important similarities in the questions of attending Mass and believing in the real presence of the Eucharist.

While the national average for belief in the Real Presence in the EWTN News/RealClear polls has fluctuated by 50% over multiple polls, Catholic voters in battleground states have slightly higher overall acceptance (53.5%) for the church to do so teaches the transformed bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ and not symbols.

Likewise, attendance at the Mass for Weekly Catholics nationwide was about 24%.

In the battlefield states, attending the fair weekly or more frequently is worth noting.

While Arizona (24.4%), Florida (22.1%) and Nevada (21.7%) have weekly participation rates in line with the national average, weekly participation rates in Ohio (30.6%), Pennsylvania (30, 5%) and especially Georgia (41.4%) ) are significantly higher.

This leads to a potentially larger constituency already deeply dissatisfied with President Biden and his policies, which could very well help determine the balance of power in the US Congress and influence US political life for years to come.

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