The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life’s analysis of last week’s National Election Pool exit poll reported by CNN revealed Catholics to be the biggest “swing faith” in this year’s election. The poll showed Catholics voted 44 percent Democratic to 54 percent Republican, compared to 2008, when 55 percent of Catholics voted Democratic while 44 percent voted Republican.
Catholics were not the only group that experienced a significant shift in voting. According to the poll, Protestants, a group which traditionally votes Republican, managed to increase their support for the Republicans to 60 percent, up from 53 percent in 2008.
Even atheists and the unaffiliated, who normally vote Democratic, shifted 6 percent of their vote toward the Republicans, as they voted 66 percent Democratic as opposed to 32 percent Republican. In 2008 atheists and unaffiliated citizens voted 72 percent Democratic compared to 25 percent Republican.
This data raises a number of interesting questions, and major ones for Democratic strategists: Was the Catholic vote the big one that got away? And how can they reel those voters back in for 2012?