Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Quiet Crusade: Catholicism's rise within the GOP

Matt Lewis make a compelling case that while the evangelical wing of the Republican party may be louder, the Catholic vote is quietly gaining steam.


Perhaps because Catholics are a huge swing vote, many of George W. Bush's most prominent speech writers were Catholic. Bush also cleverly adopted Catholic rhetoric, such as the term "culture of life", as a way to appeal to this demographic in his speeches.... the impact of Catholic conservatism became increasingly apparent during the 2008 GOP Primary, where the vast majority of Catholic conservative money and support (think Laura Ingraham, Kathryn Lopez, Kathleen Parker, Peggy Noonan, et al.) went to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney -- a Mormon.

Romney benefited greatly from having networked effectively within the Catholic conservative community -- and was aided tremendously by my good friend Peter Flaherty -- who is well-connected that community. This, of course, greatly angered Kansas Senator Sam Brownback (a Catholic convert), who was also running for president in 2008, and hoped to gain the support of this constituency (as anyone will tell you, the Brownback vs. Romney feud was fierce).

That being said, even if you assume the very worst about Newt's recent conversion, the evangelical vote is still far more important to any Republican candidacy, because you've to get through evangelicals to get to those Catholic swings.