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Latino Catholics overwhelmingly favor Obama

October 18, 2012|By Hector Becerra
  • A supporter waves a sign reading "Latinos for Obama" during a stump speech by the president in Las Vegas.
A supporter waves a sign reading "Latinos for Obama" during… (Isaac Brekken / Getty Images )

Catholic and religiously unaffiliated Latinos overwhelmingly support reelecting President Obama, while only about half of evangelical Latinos do, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center released Thursday.

Most Latino registered voters support Obama regardless of how often they attend church, but those who reported attending frequently were less likely to support his reelection. Those who never attend religious services favored the president the most, the study found.  

The survey, which also found growing support for gay marriage among Latinos, was largely consistent with national polls showing that the fast-growing group — now 24 million eligible voters — backs Obama over Mitt Romney by a 3-1 margin.

Latino Catholics who are registered to vote poll similarly to the overall Latino population, with 73% saying they plan to vote for Obama and 19% saying they will vote for Romney. National polls generally show Romney garnering just over 20% of the Latino vote. By contrast, Catholic whites are almost evenly split, with 47% favoring Obama and 46% backing Romney.

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Latinos not affiliated with a religion are even more strongly in favor of reelecting the  president, with 82% saying they will vote for the Democratic ticket and only 7% saying they will vote for Romney. About two-thirds of voters in the U.S. who are religiously unaffiliated favor Obama.

Though a lower percentage of Latino evangelicals -- 50% --  supports Obama, compared with 39% for Romney, that's still a marked difference from how white evangelical Protestants say they plan to vote. About 74% of white evangelicals say they'll back Romney.

For the first time since the Pew Hispanic Center began asking about gay marriage, more Latinos said they favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry, about 52%, than said they opposed it — 34%. When Pew asked the question three years ago, 44% said they opposed gay marriage and  34% supported it.

“This finding reflects the overall trend in the general public toward more support for same-sex marriage,” the report says.

Latino evangelicals, however, still strongly oppose gay marriage, with 66% against it and 25% supporting it.

Whereas Catholic registered voters’ support of gay marriage is virtually the same as Latino Catholics’ support, white evangelicals are more opposed to gay marriage than their Latino counterparts.

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The fact that a majority of Latinos now support gay marriage has clear implications for California, where the issue could go before voters again in 2014.

Among Latinos who attend religious services at least once or twice a month, about half said they had heard the clergy in their church or place of worship speak out against abortion; about 43% said their clergy brought up immigration, and 38% reported that homosexuality came up during services.

Just over a quarter said their clergy had brought up candidates and elections.

Though slightly more Latino Catholics reported their clergy talking about immigration than did Latino evangelicals, the latter were more likely to hear their clergy talk about homosexuality. Abortion came up about equally for both, the report says.

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hector.becerra@latimes.com

Twitter: @LaTimesHekutor

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