PHILADELPHIA (RNS) If there is one constant in this unconventional presidential campaign it is the unpredictability — and importance — of the Catholic vote.
Once a reliably Democratic cohort, Catholics have in recent decades swung back and forth between the two parties. And because they represent about a fifth of all voters, and are concentrated in key Midwestern swing states, the candidate with the most Catholic support has wound up winning the popular vote.
Catholics are also a diverse and constantly changing community thanks to immigration, largely from Latin America, and the exodus of cradle Catholics to other denominations or to the ranks of the unaffiliated.
That only adds to the difficulty of figuring out what Catholic voters are likely to do from one quadrennial election to the next.
“I always like to say there is no Catholic vote — and it’s important,” said E.J. Dionne, a liberal Catholic and Washington Post columnist who was watching the Democratic National Convention unfold this week on the floor of the Wells Fargo Arena in South Philadelphia.
As expected, white evangelicals are going solidly for Donald Trump and down-ballot Republicans, while Jews, African-American Christians and members of minority faiths, as usual, are going strongly for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.