Latinos, Religion and Campaign 2012:
Catholics Strongly Favor Obama,
Rapidly Growing Latino Support for Same-Sex Marriage
Latinos are divided by religion in their preferences in the upcoming presidential election, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Three-quarters (73%) of Latino Catholics and eight-in-ten (82%) religiously unaffiliated Latinos support President Barack Obama’s re-election. However, among Latino evangelical Protestants, who account for 16% of all Latino registered voters, just 50% prefer Obama, while 39% support his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
These same patterns are reflected in Latinos’ partisan affiliations. Eight-in-ten (81%) religiously unaffiliated Latino voters (who make up 15% of the Latino electorate) and seven-in-ten (71%) Latino Catholics (57% of the Latino electorate) are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party. Among Latino evangelical voters, identification with the Democratic Party is lower—- about half (52%) are Democrats or lean Democratic, while about a third (36%) are Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party.
As the presidential election approaches, many Hispanic churchgoers say they are hearing from their clergy about various political issues and, to a lesser extent, about candidates and elections. Roughly half (54%) of Hispanics who attend religious services at least once a month say they have heard their clergy speak out about abortion, while 43% have heard from the pulpit about immigration, and 38% say their clergy have spoken out about homosexuality. A smaller proportion, roughly three-in-ten (29%), report hearing from their clergy about candidates and elections.
The new survey also finds rapidly growing support for same-sex marriage among Latinos, mirroring growing support among the general public. Half (52%) of Latinos now favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while one-third (34%) are opposed. As recently as 2006, these figures were reversed (56% of Latinos opposed same-sex marriage, while 31% supported it). Latino evangelicals, however, remain strongly opposed to same-sex marriage (66% opposed vs. 25% in favor).
This report is jointly produced by two projects of the Pew Research Center, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center. It follows a Pew Hispanic Center report, released last week, about Latino voters in this year’s election. Both reports are based on a nationally representative bilingual telephone survey conducted Sept. 7-Oct. 4, 2012 (largely before the first presidential debate), among 1,765 Latino adults, including 903 registered voters. The Latino electorate today includes 23.7 million eligible voters—- an increase of more than 4 million since 2008. Overall, Latinos now account for 11% of the nation’s eligible electorate, up from 9.5% in 2008. In addition, Latinos make up at least 14% of all eligible voters in three battleground states this year—- Colorado, Florida and Nevada.
The report, “Latinos, Religion and Campaign 2012: Catholics Favor Obama, Evangelicals Divided,” is available here.
The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. and is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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