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59% of Catholics Disapprove of Obama’s Job Performance

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

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. While the president’s overall job approval ratings have improved over the past couple of months, they have remained steady among Catholics.

A 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.

Fifty-four percent (54%) 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, 2012. 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. Rasmussen Reports also provides  daily updates of the president’s Job Approval and match-ups between President Obama and both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Sixty-one percent (61%) 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.

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.  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.

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The 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. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Data released earlier found that 50% of all likely voters disagree with the Obama administration’s action forcing Catholic institutions to pay for birth control measures that they morally oppose. Thirty-nine percent (39%) agree with the new policy.

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.

The requirement stems from the national health care law, championed by the president and passed by congressional Democrats in March 2010. Most voters opposed the law before its passage and nearly two years later still want to see it repealed.

Eight-out-of-10 Americans (80%) say that their religious faith is at least somewhat important in their daily lives. Just 18% feel their religious faith is not very or not at all important to their lives.

But only 12% of voters feel it’s appropriate for their local religious leader, such as a parish priest, minister, rabbi or imam, to suggest who they should vote for. Seventy-nine percent (79%) do not find such suggestions appropriate.

A full demographic breakdown is available to Platinum Members only. 

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