Catholic voters will impact presidential election

Sr. Stewart, Matthews note effect on past campaigns


Callie Helm

Sr. Mary Mary Ann Stewart prepares for her next social studies class in the library.

Andrew de las Alas

In the past, coalitions of certain groups have been essential for electoral victories. It may orbit around decisions like going to war, how the economy ought to be organized or pressing social issues.

But one of the most significant groupings of people is by religion, nationality or ethnicity. Catholics make up a voting bloc tens of millions strong. This year with the combination of an election year featuring a Catholic candidate and the possible confirmation of a  Catholic Supreme Court justice, both candidates and the media are highlighting the importance of the Catholic vote in the Nov. 3 election. 

According to U.S. History teacher Sr. Mary Anne Stewart, historically “until the Roe v. Wade decision, Catholics were Democrats because (the Democratic Party) was more accepting of minorities, but after Democrats took the stance of pro-choice a lot went to the Republicans.” 

Stewart said, “I saw that change when I was teaching. Many kids were Democrats with families in labor unions. But when the (abortion on demand) decision came in, I saw a lot of people change to Republicans.” 

This year is reminiscent of the 1960 election in the sense that Joe Biden would be the second Catholic ever elected to the office as President, said Vice Principal Mr. Mark Matthews. In an email, Matthews wrote, “John Kennedy won almost all the Catholic vote.”

It does not necessarily appear that the 2020 election will fall the same way. Matthews said, “Today, President Trump has a super majority of white Catholic voters who support him against a Catholic candidate. Among non-white Catholics, more support Mr. Biden.” 

Stewart sees abortion as a flashpoint issue for Catholic support. Having a Supreme Court justice opposed to abortion may cause a lot of Catholics to be supportive of Republicans, Stewart said. 

Matthews said, “(In 1960), many Americans were afraid that (Kennedy’s) Catholic faith would restrict his ability to function as president,” which has already been a popular topic when discussing the merits of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whose religion was questioned when he was confirmed to a another position on the federal bench.  

Stewart also said, “I don’t consider either (party) to be pro-life.” Democrats take a pro-choice stance on abortion, while many Republicans have  policies on death penalty or immigration that run contrary to pro-life. Stewart said, “Many Catholics don’t see it that way. Abortion tends to outweigh, in the minds of many Catholics, other things, like the right to have healthcare.”

Since the Senior Class has a fair amount of individuals of voting age, the influence of their faith is bound to be present on Nov. 3.