Four years after Catholic Americans helped seal Donald Trump’s come-from-behind victory with a flood of support in the industrial Midwest, they could deliver his defeat on Tuesday.
In the closing days of the 2020 race, polls have shown Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a steady lead among Catholic voters, one of the most consequential voting blocs this presidential cycle and a demographic the Trump campaign is counting on to deliver all-important toss-ups — like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio — to their side on Election Day.
“There’s no doubt we have to win the Catholic vote. It is essential to our reelection,” said Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence.
But the state of the Catholic vote four days before the Nov. 3 election underscores the immense challenge the Trump campaign has faced in its year-long attempt to lock in religious voters who appear inclined to support Biden — despite approving of the president’s job performance — out of sheer frustration with Trump’s personality and concerns over the division his presidency has sowed.
A mid-October survey by EWTN and RealClearPolitics showed Trump with a 47 percent approval rating among Catholics, but only 40 percent support when respondents were asked who they would vote for if the election were held today. Ditto for a Marquette Law School poll released last week where Trump’s job approval rating (52 percent) among Wisconsin Catholics exceeded their support for his reelection (48 percent).
“If he loses, it’s because people who otherwise support him are just sick of it all,” said one adviser to the Trump campaign. “It’s because of voters who kind of like Trump, but ‘just can’t take this anymore.’ It’s because voters will choose a calm Thanksgiving dinner with their Democratic and Republican relatives over another policy victory or Supreme Court justice.”