Poll: 59% of Catholics Disapprove of Obama’s Performance

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 14, 2012   |   12:28PM   |   Washington, DC

The criticism of President Barack Obama in the Catholic community has been swift thanks to the pro-abortion mandate the president put in place forcing religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

In what is the first major public measurement of the Catholic backlash Obama faces, a new Rasmussen poll finds 59 percent of Catholics don’t approve of his job performance. That poor standing with one of the major electoral constituencies that Obama needs this November may make it more difficult for him to win a second term.

“Catholics strongly disapprove of the job President Obama is doing as the debate continues over his administration’s new policy forcing Catholic institutions to pay for contraception they morally oppose,” notes pollster Scott Rasmussen in the new survey. “While the president’s overall job approval ratings have improved over the past couple of months, they have remained steady among Catholics.”

The new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% of likely Catholic voters nationwide at least somewhat disapprove of the president’s job performance, while 40% at least somewhat approve. But the passion’s on the side of those who don’t like the job he’s doing: 44% Strongly Disapprove versus 19% who Strongly Approve.

According to the survey, 54 percent of Catholics voted for Obama in November 2008. However, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney currently leads the president among Catholic voters by a 52% to 35% margin. Among all voters, however, President Obama leads Romney and all Republican hopefuls.

These results are from surveys conducted over the seven days ending February 12. Among all likely voters, 50% approve of how the president is doing and 49% disapprove.  This includes 26% who Strongly Approve and 38% who Strongly Disapprove.

Looking at other religious subgroups, 61 percent of Evangelical Christians and 52% of other Protestants also at least somewhat disapprove of the job Obama is doing in the White House. The view is much more positive among non-Christians. Among those who profess some other religious affiliation or none at all, 68% at least somewhat approve of the president’s performance. [related

Rassmussen found that, regardless of religious affiliation, disapproval is higher among those who regularly attend religious services. Among those who attend services every week or nearly every week, 41% offer their approval of the president while 59% disapprove. Among those who rarely or never attend services, 63% approve and 36% disapprove.

“This faith gap was evident in December, well before the current dispute between the Obama Administration and religious leaders. Yet while the president’s overall job approval ratings have gone up slightly in recent weeks as perceptions of the economy have begun to improve, there’s been little or no change in attitude among religious groups,” Scott Rasmussen notes. “In that earlier survey, 60% of likely Catholic voters disapproved of the president’s performance, including 45% who Strongly Disapproved. Similarly, 68% of Evangelical Christians and 56% of other Protestants disapproved of how the president is doing his job, while 65% of voters of other faiths approved.”

This poll follows another one Rasmussen conducted showing a majority of Americans oppose the new mandate the Obama administration put into place to force religious employers to pay for insurance coverage that includes birth control and drugs that can cause abortions.

“In that survey, 65% of Catholic voters opposed the president’s requirement which he has since attempted to soften by saying the Catholic institutions would not have to pay for contraception for all their employees but that instead it would be the full responsibility of their insurance companies. However, that change has not dampened the opposition which now includes several lawsuits challenging the requirement,” Rasmussen said.

In that national survey of 1,000 likely voters, Rasmussen asked, “The requirement to provide contraceptives for women violates deeply held beliefs of some churches and religious organizations. If providing such coverage violates the beliefs of a church or religious organization, should the government still require them to provide coverage for contraceptives?”

Some 50 percent of those polled said no while 39 percent of Americans agreed.

When asked “Should individuals have the right to choose between different types of health insurance plans, including some that cost more and cover just about all medical procedures and some that cost less while covering only major medical procedures?” 77 percent of respondents said yes while just 9 percent said no. A 45-35 percent plurality disagree when asked, “Should the government require every health insurance company and health insurance plan to cover the exact same set of medical procedures?”

Even on the issue of contraception itself, a 46-43 percent plurality said no when asked, “Should health insurance companies be required by law to cover all government-approved contraceptives for women, without co-payments or other charges to the patient?”

Another 54 percent of Americans, compared with just 16 percent who said it would decrease, said the cost of health insurance will increase if health insurance companies are required to cover all government-approved contraceptives for women.

The new survey of 3,500 Likely Voters was conducted February 6-12, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.