Joe Biden and the Catholic vote


Sir, – In his victory lap following the US presidential election, Niall O’Dowd tells us that a key part of Joe Biden’s victory was a shift in the Catholic vote toward Mr Biden (“How the Irish helped Joe Biden rebuild the blue wall”, Opinion & Analysis, November 10th). However, he failed to give any detailed information on this and wrongly implied that some kind of fundamental shift had occurred among this group.

In fact, exit polls showed that Donald Trump achieved 50 per cent of the overall Catholic vote, an identical proportion to that he received in 2016. Mr Biden got 49 per cent, a modest increase on the 46 per cent tally achieved by Hillary Clinton.

While there was a small shift in white Catholic voters towards Mr Biden, there was a significant shift away from the Democrats among Catholics in the Hispanic community, particularly in Florida and Texas, who flocked to Mr Trump and the Republicans in droves.

Why did this happen?

It’s likely that this was prompted by the increasing association of the Democrats with policy positions which are offensive to practising Catholics.

Among Mr Biden’s policy priorities and that of his party are the codification of the Roe v Wade decision in federal legislation, expanding the availability of abortion across all 50 states. He also wants to reinstate regulations introduced by President Obama, recently struck down by the US Supreme Court, which forced the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of nuns, to distribute abortion pills.

Mr Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, is on record as suggesting that membership of Catholic fraternal and charitable groups, such as the Knights of Columbus, should disqualify candidates for judicial office.

With Republicans still in the majority in the Senate these proposals are dead in the water, but the shift away from the Democrats among Hispanic Catholic voters in particular points to a major long-term problem for that party, particularly in view of the significant gains made by Mr Trump among other groups, including black men and gay and lesbian voters.

The fact that the Democrats appear to be alienating such diverse groups simultaneously is quite an achievement.

Rather than using opportunities to name-check friends of his who were involved in the Biden campaign, Mr O’Dowd should reflect on whether these trends suggest that the shock result of 2016, and the increase in Mr Trump’s own vote last week, are simply aberrations, or if they point towards a long-term political realignment. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 3.