(CNSNews.com) - A poll released Monday by a Catholic abortion rights group shows Catholics split evenly in the presidential race, with 40 percent supporting President Bush and 40 percent supporting Sen. John F. Kerry.
According to the poll by Catholics for a Free Choice, the most important factor in determining a Catholic's vote is their level of confidence in Bush's ability to resolve the war in Iraq.
Fifty-four percent of the 2,239 Catholics surveyed have a "great deal" or "some" confidence in Bush's ability, while 46 percent have "not much" or "very little" confidence in his ability to resolve the war in Iraq. Of those who have confidence, 96 percent plan to vote for Bush.
Among those who do not have confidence, 88 percent intend to vote for Kerry.
"Catholics are roughly split which does mean that if one of the two candidates does a better job reaching people of faith, that could actually make the difference," said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, a pro-life Catholic group.
Donohue noted that the Bush campaign was currently doing a better job reaching people of faith.
"Clearly Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews who are practicing in their faith - who are regular attendees at a house of worship - are decidedly in the Bush camp," added Donohue.
He warned that politicians who "ignore the Christian voter in favor of the secularist" could risk the entire election.
Both Catholics for a Free Choice and the Catholic League agree that whichever candidate gets the Catholic vote gets the White House. Over the last 27 years, whoever won the most Catholic votes won the election (or the popular vote, as in the 2000 presidential election).
Catholics for a Free Choice will release the complete poll on July 13, including data on the weight Catholics place on the role of the church hierarchy in the upcoming election.
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