Some of the political commentary regarding the current controversy over contraception suggests that Catholic voters are a monolith who base their ballot choices, if only indirectly, on the moral pronouncements of their religious leaders.
But this theory is mistaken. The Catholic laity in America are not a monolith — even with regard to the teachings of their church, let alone with respect to electoral politics.
As Ed Kilgore EXPLAINS HERE, there is no “self-conscious ‘Catholic vote’ that operates independently of the rest of the electorate…”
Catholic voters are remarkably similar to all voters in their partisan inclinations; they do not have any overall inclination to follow the Church hierarchy on hot-button cultural issues; and in fact, they are not responding differently from other Americans to the contraception coverage mandate controversy. “The Catholic Vote” looks just like America.
Kilgore goes on to cite a column by Stephen S. Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, who says:
[T]he idea of a Catholic bloc is patently ridiculous. As voters, American Catholics mirror the electorate as a whole, divided into Democrats, independents, and Republicans at about the same percentages as all Americans. And it’s hard to trace such political complexity to religious allegiance.