June 4, 2007

White, non-Hispanic Catholics and Republican Presidential Candidates

Giuliani Generating the Most Enthusiasm
Where do white, non-Hispanic Catholics stand with regard to the announced and potential Republican presidential candidates? A June survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press sheds light on this question at this stage of the campaign by measuring name recognition and likelihood of support at the polls. (View a complete discussion of the survey findings and more details on the survey methodology.)

Name Recognition. Among white Catholics, Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters are nearly unanimous in saying they have heard of John McCain (99%), Rudy Giuliani (99%) and Newt Gingrich* (97%). Mitt Romney is known by 80% of white Catholics and Fred Thompson* is familiar to 69%.

Other Republican candidates and potential candidates are less well-known; among all Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters, 51% report having heard of Tommy Thompson, 48% of Mike Huckabee, 43% of Chuck Hagel* and 40% of Sam Brownback.

Likely Support. Among white Catholics, Giuliani – who is Catholic himself – currently generates the most enthusiasm by a wide margin, with nearly half (49%) saying there is a “good chance” they would vote for him. An additional 33% say there is “some chance” they would vote for him, while only 15% say there is “no chance” Giuliani would get their vote. In contrast, roughly one-in-four Catholics say there is a “good chance” they would vote for McCain, though 46% say there is “some chance” they would support him. Far fewer white Catholics say they would vote for Gingrich (21% “good chance,” 29% “some chance”) or Romney (15% “good chance,” 35% “some chance”). Gingrich is viewed most negatively by this group, with 46% saying there is “no chance” they would vote for him.

Despite being significantly less well-known than many of the other candidates, Fred Thompson generates as much enthusiasm among white Catholics (24% say there is a “good chance” they would vote for him) as do McCain, Gingrich and Romney.

* Not an announced candidate as of June 4, 2007.