The latest poll numbers show Obama leading narrowly among Catholics, 46 to 44. That’s a significant shift from 2008 when Obama took Catholics 53 to 47. Those numbers look fairly similar to Reagan’s 1980 win among Catholics by 47 to 46. Those numbers may not be significant, but in 1976, Carter had taken Catholics by 57 to 41.
Given four years, Reagan expanded that lead in 1984 to 61 percent among Catholics. That advantage crumbled in the Clinton era, Clinton won the Catholic vote 47 to 35, and 55 to 35 in the next election, but the balance began shifting again under Bush. The current numbers show both candidates running nearly even. If those numbers remain on track, then Obama will be in serious trouble.
Catholic voters have a history of turning against radical candidates. Catholics turned on McGovern in 1972. They turned on Carter in 1980. And they may be turning on Obama in 2012.