Catholic voters are proving to be the wild card of this year’s presidential race, as Hispanic adherents of the faith back Democrat Hillary Clinton in large numbers and their white peers — though divided — warm to Republican rival Donald Trump, potentially tilting the balance in some of the election’s key battleground states.
A poll gives Mr. Trump a 13-point lead among Catholics, as reports about the Republican mogul’s behavior take a back seat to headlines about the FBI’s revived probe into Mrs. Clinton’s emails.
Mr. Trump has been a moral question mark for Catholics and other churchgoers, given his lewd remarks from a 2005 “Access Hollywood” taping and the long line of women who have accused him of groping or making untoward sexual advances on them.
Yet he also vowed to appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, a key selling point for Catholics put off by his inconsistent record on abortion and Mrs. Clinton’s staunchly pro-choice stance.
“Bellwether is the right word to use, because Catholics do not vote as a bloc,” said Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at Catholic University in the District of Columbia. “The so-called Catholic vote is an aggregate of several subgroups, but that aggregate has picked the winner of every election since 1984,” save for Democrat Al Gore’s razor-thin Electoral College loss in 2000.