White Catholics = Whites. White evangelicals = ?

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O the wastage of ink and electrons over Barack Obama’s alleged Catholic problem! As usual for Democrats in general elections, it’s white evangelicals, not Catholics, that are the problem, but maybe this year not so much. The latest evidence? Quinnipiac polls showing Obama with modest leads in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
In Florida, he’s leading McCain in Florida 47-43 on the strength of 95 percent of the black vote. McCain leads him among white evangelicals 66-22, among white Catholics, 52-38. (The numbers for whites as a whole is 50-40.) In Ohio, where Obama leads McCain by 48-42, white evangelicals break 55-35 for McCain, white Catholics 47-45. Overall, whites prefer McCain 47-44. In Pennsylvania, where Obama leads McCain 52-40, white evangelicals break for McCain 58-34 and white Catholics split evenly, 45-45. Whites there split for Obama 47-44. White Catholics, in short, prefer Obama at just slightly under the rate at which whites as a whole prefer him.
As for the white evangelicals, it’s no surprise that they go strongly for McCain. But the numbers in Ohio and Pennsylvania are interesting–and particularly in Ohio, where these voters are more plentiful than in the Keystone State, and in recent elections have been a lot more active thanks to the efforts of people like the Rev. Rod Parsley. That 35 percent of them now say they favor Obama points to a swing of roughly 20 percentage points towards the Democratic presidential candidate from 2004. If that holds, McCain can kiss Ohio, and the election, goodbye. Obama may not want to talk about peeling off white evangelicals, but…