Rasmussen poll shows Obama job disapproval 59% among Catholics

posted at 12:10 pm on February 14, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

How has the Obama administration’s contraception mandate on religious organizations impacted Barack Obama’s standing?  According to a new Rasmussen poll, it’s had about the impact one would expect after a few days of consideration.  Almost six in ten Catholics now disapprove of Obama’s job performance, and a near-majority strongly disapprove:

Catholics strongly disapprove of the job President Obama is doing as the debate continues over his administration’s new policy forcing Catholic institutions to pay for contraception they morally oppose. While the president’s overall job approval ratings have improved over the past couple of months, they have remained steady among Catholics.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% of likely Catholic voters nationwide at least somewhat disapprove of the president’s job performance, while 40% at least somewhat approve. But the passion’s on the side of those who don’t like the job he’s doing: 44% Strongly Disapprove versus 19% who Strongly Approve.

The key point in this poll, though, is that the survey was taken mostly before the White House announced its “accommodation.”  The polling took place from February 6-12, and the supposed recalculation of the rule was announced early on Friday, February 10.  Rasmussen’s report doesn’t give any indication if Obama’s approval rating rose in the three days of polling after the announcement.

Actually, the overall direction of the tracking poll is good news for Obama.  His approval rating rose to 50/49 in the seven days even with the controversy over the mandate raging in the news last week.  The GOP maintains a slight edge in the generic Congressional ballot, however, at 43/41.

The stunning loss of support among Catholics has to worry Obama’s team, however.  He won the Catholic vote by nine points in a year where he won the popular vote by seven.  He can ill afford to hand that vote to the GOP in an election that will certainly be more difficult, especially with a stagnant economy and a Democratic Senate that refuses to perform its constitutional duty by passing a budget.  As The Anchoress writes today at First Things, not only has Obama alienated moderate Catholics, he’s cut the ground out from underneath the Catholic Left that influenced them:

If, upon gauging the dismay of his allies within the church, Obama had truly meant to assuage the consciences of his Catholic allies, he could have done so easily and clearly; instead his words suggested to some that even the narrow conscience clause offered in his first decision was at risk, and his solution looks like a shell game, analogous, as blogger Marc Barnes put it, to trying to force Orthodox Jewish restaurants to sell bacon, but then “accommodating” them by forcing them to “pay a Gentile with a bacon cart to serve pork” for them.

For that matter, if Obama had been genuinely interested in pleasing believers in general and Catholics in particular, he would have conferred with the bishops, and gotten their thoughts on the nuances between direct and indirect co-operation with evil, rather than going around them.

But Obama’s move on Friday wasn’t about nuance; it was about destroying the surprising unity of the “Catholic Right” and the “Catholic Left” on this issue; it was about dividing and conquering. In a deeply cynical move, Obama used Sister Carol Keehan to foment that division; he needed her credibility to reassure the Catholic Left that it could prefer unity with his administration over unity with the church.

His punch was off. Possibly he hadn’t anticipated a block to guard the possession of rights, which are not his to dole out as he sees fit. He seems not to realize, even now–as his administration muddies up the story with talk of costs and savings–that his Catholic allies’ rejection of his HHS Mandate wasn’t about contraception or sterilization, nor could their approval be regained with a skillful uppercut to the men in the miters. What the HHS Mandate has revealed is that the preservation of the freedom of religion–of the churches rights to be who and what they are and to exercise their missions–is worth going to the mat for, no matter which corner you’re coming from.

The Catholic Church is not ambivalent at all about the “accommodation,” either, which complicates matters for liberal Catholics even further:

Human Life International Pres. Father Shenan J. Boquet made the following statement in response to the Obama administration’s proposed “compromise” on the contraception/sterilization/abortifacient mandate:

“We at Human Life International stand with the Catholic bishops and a diverse group of organizations and individuals in rejecting the false compromise offered by the Obama administration in an apparent attempt to gain wider acceptance of the mandate that requires free coverage of contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs.

“Having closely examined all available information on the compromise, we are appalled at the cynicism displayed by both its content and the means by which it was announced. The original unjust mandate required that conscientious objectors to this policy would be forced to pay for insurance that will cover morally abhorrent ‘care.’ With the so-called compromise we are still forced to pay for insurance that covers procedures and drugs that directly contradict our religious beliefs. The compromise is a distinction without a difference and merely an accounting trick that does nothing to change the fact that we will have to pay for chemical abortions, sterilizations and contraception for any employee.

“The Obama administration’s verbal engineering is an egregious and blatant attempt to divide certain Catholic organizations from others and from the bishops, all in an effort to secure even the thinnest possible façade of Catholic approval. Sadly, the administration has found prominent organizations to be complicit in this calculated move. It should be noted that though the bishops were not consulted on this compromise, it appears that Catholic Health Association (CHA) and Catholic Charities USA were consulted and their agreement secured before the bishops even had an opportunity to examine the proposal. The Obama administration’s proposal was clearly not an attempt at good faith dialogue and genuine compromise.”

Even worse, Obama has given the Catholic hierarchy a reason to fight ObamaCare, which they had supported to some extent:

“Under the Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’), the HHS has entirely too much unchecked power over health care in the United States, and given their history of disregard for both religious liberty and human life, we have no confidence that the federal government can be trusted to administer health care that respects the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death. Not only do we support legislation currently being considered in Congress to ensure clear and strong protection for freedom of religion and conscience, but we also call upon our political leaders to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety so that it may be replaced by a system in which human life and dignity, and the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, are secured.

“This compromise offered by President Obama demands that we compromise our religious beliefs and our commitment to the health and life of women and children while they compromise nothing. We at Human Life International stand with our Bishops and call upon the administration to honor the freedom endowed by God and honored by our nation’s Bill of Rights. We will render unto Caesar only that which belongs to him and not what belongs to God.”

Obama has not yet solved the problem he created with this mandate.  I give it another three days before the White House expands the exemption to all religious organizations in an attempt to end the controversy.


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oops indeed.

rasmussen is a propaganda outfit.

sesquipedalian on February 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM

OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Let’s get this straight right now, because I bet you’ve been paying attention to the whining of dissident nuns and ex-nuns who carp endlessly — and coincidentally in news stories which have sometimes appeared right around Easter — that the Catholic Church forbids women to be priests because they are women.

Just as Obama as President cannot usurp your or my rights as outlined in the Constitution, the Pope, who is the head of the Catholic Church, cannot authorize women to be priests. He is not permitted to do it, period. Anyone who says otherwise is frankly full of crap.

I’ve known nuns who are CEOs of Catholic hospitals. But I guess that’s not a “top church position” to you.

PatriotGal2257 on February 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Women are barred from the top church positions. The church has a ministerial exemption from some employment laws, as it should. That type of exemption can’t be extended to hiring medical professionals, but the rationale that [hospital = place of worship] would require that the state defer to a religious owner if they chose to apply gender discrimination based based on their doctrine.

OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 2:08 PM

I am sorry, this is really ridiculous. Can you show me some references of Church teaching that would indicate in any way that they could discriminate on medical professionals, or any other position other than the ordination for the priesthood?
To suggest that a religious issue like the ordination of priest could extend to hiring practices in a hospital is silly, to put it politely.

neuquenguy on February 14, 2012 at 2:29 PM

neuquenguy on February 14, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Don’t waste your time arguing with someone who isn’t posting comments in good faith. This guy is on every thread having to do with the mandate. He’s had his lunch handed to him on numerous occasions (ask Trafalgar or PackerBronco), but just keeps repeating the same stuff over and over again.

Nom de Boom on February 14, 2012 at 2:35 PM

I heard the most amazing homily at Mass this past Sunday. After we listened to the Bishop’s lenten appeal, our Pastor got up to talk about the royal decree from Obama. The Pastor said, “President Obama and the Democrats have given us a year to comply. Well, we’re putting them on notice…..we’re giving them a year to change their ways…”

olesparkie on February 14, 2012 at 2:38 PM

I am sorry, this is really ridiculous. Can you show me some references of Church teaching that would indicate in any way that they could discriminate on medical professionals, or any other position other than the ordination for the priesthood?
To suggest that a religious issue like the ordination of priest could extend to hiring practices in a hospital is silly, to put it politely.

neuquenguy on February 14, 2012 at 2:29 PM

The doctrine of the RCC isn’t the question. The exemption for US law is. Churches have greater exemption for US law when employing ministers. That exemption can’t apply to medical professionals other than those who have taken vows. The recent “Hosanna-Tabor” SCOTUS decision hinged on the teacher moving from a lay position to a ministerial position during the term of her employment.

A court is likely to distinguish between ministerial employees and non-ministerial employees if faced with the question of exemptions regarding health care policy.

OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM

Don’t waste your time arguing with someone who isn’t posting comments in good faith. This guy is on every thread having to do with the mandate. He’s had his lunch handed to him on numerous occasions (ask Trafalgar or PackerBronco), but just keeps repeating the same stuff over and over again.

Nom de Boom on February 14, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Like others you haven’t bothered to reference a court decision. Good luck in life with your evidence-free assertions. Seems hopey-changey.

OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Are the other 41% brain-dead?

Axion on February 14, 2012 at 2:46 PM

The doctrine of the RCC isn’t the question. The exemption for US law is. Churches have greater exemption for US law when employing ministers. That exemption can’t apply to medical professionals other than those who have taken vows.

OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM

Good Lord man! This has nothing to do with employment law, it has to do with the government forcing the Church to provide a service to its employees that runs contrary to the Church’s long-established tenets. It doesn’t matter if the Church employs janitors, doctors, teachers, or candlestick makers. It’s not what the employees beliefs may or may not be in this matter. It’s the Church’s. And the Church is very clear and correct in saying that it cannot, as a matter of faith, be involved in providing contraception or abortion to anybody. And the government cannot dictate to the Church that its beliefs don’t matter. Have you read the 1st Amendment?

Trafalgar on February 14, 2012 at 2:56 PM

The doctrine of the RCC isn’t the question. The exemption for US law is.

That is your opinion. SCOTUS made it clear in Hosanna-Tabor that the rights of religious organizations receive special and robust recognition under the First Amendment. The terrain may look a little different to them than it does to you or than it did in Hosanna-Tabor. But the principle – the protections of religious organizations from the intrusions of government – remains the same.

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 2:57 PM

But is 59% bigger than the margin of fraud?

Archivarix on February 14, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an interview with The Associated Press that he trusted Obama wasn’t anti-religious and intended to make good on his pledge to work with religious groups to fine-tune the mandate.

The bishops can’t wait to make a deal. After Santorum becomes the nominee, Obama will give them what they want, and they will cave.

Meanwhile, as I asserted earlier, and as sesquipedalian shows, thanks to a helpful link, Obama’s position is not really hurting him now.

According to Gallup, Obama’s support among Catholics is down only three points, well within the margin of error. Meanwhile, over the same time period, Obama’s approval among non-Catholics is up two, and among all Americans is up one.

Obama won’t have any problem making up that three point drop once he gives the bishops the exemption they want. Which, of course, he will promptly take away once he is reelected with significant Catholic support.

Mr. Arkadin on February 14, 2012 at 3:03 PM

I give it another three days before the White House expands the exemption to all religious organizations in an attempt to end the controversy.

Keeping GTMO open and having a surge in Afghanistan aren’t the only areas where Obama “copy-cat”d Bush. The relentless use of the term “doubling down” is another area. I don’t think Obama will walk this back. He has too much invested in woo’ing women voters. He can’t win re-election without an overwhelming majority of them in his camp. So, in defiance of the Catholic Church and religious freedom, I think Obama will “triple down”.

olesparkie on February 14, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Obama won’t have any problem making up that three point drop once he gives the bishops the exemption they want. Which, of course, he will promptly take away once he is reelected with significant Catholic support.

Mr. Arkadin on February 14, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Might it hurt him with the left, though, to promise them the exemption?

Also remember that Gallup is polling adults and Rasmussen is polling likely voters. Big difference.

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 3:11 PM

That is your opinion. SCOTUS made it clear in Hosanna-Tabor that the rights of religious organizations receive special and robust recognition under the First Amendment. The terrain may look a little different to them than it does to you or than it did in Hosanna-Tabor. But the principle – the protections of religious organizations from the intrusions of government – remains the same.

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 2:57 PM

The interesting question is, what criteria does the court use in determining when to apply the First Amendment. Here is Alito from his Hosanna concurrence referring to some of the activities that are protected.

The First Amendment protects the freedom of religious groups to engage in certain key religious activities, including the conducting of worship services and other religious ceremonies and rituals, as well as the critical process of communicating the faith. Accordingly, religious groups must be free to choose the personnel who are essential to the performance of these functions.

The “ministerial” exception should be tailored to this portant religious ceremonies or rituals, or serves as a messenger or teacher of its faith.

If you are aware of decisions that support broader exemptions, let me know.

OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Might it hurt him with the left, though, to promise them the exemption?

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Possible, Missy, but I don’t think so. Obama knows the libtards will stick with him, especially if his opponent can be painted as a knuckle-dragging theocrat who wants to bring back the Inquisition. I also suspect the libtards know that, once he is re-elected, Obama will yank that exemption away faster than you can say Thomas Aquinas. I hope the bishops are smart enough to figure that out, too.

Mr. Arkadin on February 14, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Here is Alito from his Hosanna concurrence referring to some of the activities that are protected.

Sure, those are some of the activities Alito would most likely mention in a case that deals with hiring and the duties of specific personnel (and that was brought by the EEOC). That does not mean these same activities will be germane in future cases, or that there aren’t other protected activities that will apply.

If you are aware of decisions that support broader exemptions, let me know.

I am aware of the First Amendment and so, quite obviously, is SCOTUS. That 9-0 slapdown in Hosanna was not a coincidence. When it comes to church governance and church activities, government has to make an iron-clad case for the necessity of intrusion or it has to butt out.

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

I also suspect the libtards know that, once he is re-elected, Obama will yank that exemption away faster than you can say Thomas Aquinas.

Historically I think you are absolutely correct. But only a small percentage of voters have to be peeled away for Obama to lose. I’m trying to calculate how many straws are on the camel’s back at the moment, and which straw will make the difference.

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 3:26 PM

That’s another aspect of this that hasn’t even been analyzed. Thousands of different entities that have an ear at the White House, including every major union and half the businesses in Nancy Pelosi’s district don’t have to provide employees with contraception…but the Catholic Church does?

Obamacare is a monstrosity. Government by waiver.

HitNRun on February 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

But only a small percentage of voters have to be peeled away for Obama to lose. I’m trying to calculate how many straws are on the camel’s back at the moment, and which straw will make the difference.

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 3:26 PM

In order to peel away votes, you have to be able to attract them. Romney’s undefined, amorphous persona, which so enrages conservatives, makes him ideally suited for the general election against Obama. His problem is that he so enrages the base, it’s extremely difficult to get out of the primary. If he can do that, I think he wins. It will be close, and it’s Obama’s election to lose, but I think Romney can take it.

Santorum, on the other hand, due to the mandate controversy, has now made himself attractive to a significant number of primary base voters on a very primal, moral, passionate level. He is not just a not-Romney now, he is about something. If this issue stays hot, he is likely to be the nominee.

But, once Santorum gets into the general, his sharply defined persona will prove much less effective. It will be hard enough for him to attract moderates and independents; it will be harder once Obama and the MSM turn him into a cartoon. Obama will yank his issue from out under him, then turn around and use it against him.

The straw is the economy. Not Obamacare, that is a subset of the greater economic issue. It is about the future of a country that is effectively bankrupt, and two steps away from total meltdown. Obama, with the help of Santorum, the bishops, and the social-con right, has just taken that issue off the table.

Mr. Arkadin on February 14, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Put simply:
“The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion.” Karl Marx

More complex:
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.” Karl Marx

More insidious:
“The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.” Karl Marx

Carnac on February 14, 2012 at 4:03 PM

The straw is the economy. Not Obamacare, that is a subset of the greater economic issue. It is about the future of a country that is effectively bankrupt, and two steps away from total meltdown. Obama, with the help of Santorum, the bishops, and the social-con right, has just taken that issue off the table.

Mr. Arkadin on February 14, 2012 at 3:52 PM

I don’t entirely agree. The economy is most of it, but it’s not the whole pie. Obama angers a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. After awhile there is a layering effect – it’s the economy, and the spending, and the arrogance, and the incompetence, and the fancy vacations, and the golf, and the aggression against the Church, and the bowing, and the apology tours, etc.

Besides, this controversy about the Church and contraception isn’t merely about contraception – it’s about the First Amendment and the role of government and the appropriate use of the executive. That’s a bedrock issue. Not a so-con issue at all, at bottom.

And it reminds people, whether they are Catholic or not, of something they don’t like that is coming down the track at them – Obamacare. That is related to the economy, but it is going to hit everyone – literally everyone – not just the unemployed.

I don’t like Romney or Santorum, fwiw. But a GOP nominee cannot win without so-cons, who are pretty tired of being told every 4 years to shut up. If Romney wants to win he has to do better at attracting conservatives. Right now he’s not getting it done which is why Santorum is starting to lap him.

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Besides, this controversy about the Church and contraception isn’t merely about contraception – it’s about the First Amendment and the role of government and the appropriate use of the executive. That’s a bedrock issue. Not a so-con issue at all, at bottom.

Agreed. But I am not sure I see this argument being made very effectively. I do not see the Catholic Church having any objection to Obamacare in general once they are given the appropriate exemptions. They are not presenting an argument based on broad principles of liberty and individual freedom; rather, the Church is arguing from more narrow, self-interested grounds. This is the problem with Santorum, who has no problem with government intrusions into the private sphere except when it threatens the beliefs and practices of the Church.

That is why I initially backed Perry, whose genuine moral convictions were grounded in a much broader, more detailed and complete brand of small-government conservatism, and who had a real record of governance to back it up. I agree that social cons need to be heard, but rallying behind a one-issue, big government fake conservative like Santorum is not the answer. He will go down, and he will take the base down with him.

It’s been great having this dialogue with you, but I’ve got to go back to work. Will check back later tonight to see what you have to say. Good night.

Mr. Arkadin on February 14, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Good Lord man! This has nothing to do with employment law, it has to do with the government forcing the Church to provide a service to its employees that runs contrary to the Church’s long-established tenets. It doesn’t matter if the Church employs janitors, doctors, teachers, or candlestick makers. It’s not what the employees beliefs may or may not be in this matter. It’s the Church’s. And the Church is very clear and correct in saying that it cannot, as a matter of faith, be involved in providing contraception or abortion to anybody. And the government cannot dictate to the Church that its beliefs don’t matter. Have you read the 1st Amendment?

Trafalgar on February 14, 2012 at 2:56 PM

We both want ObamaCare defeated, perhaps for some of the same reasons. The case before SCOTUS beginning in March doesn’t hinge on a religious exemption. Rather, it relies on the Constitutionality of the mandate under the Commerce Clause, among other non-First Amendment issues.

My honest question for you is what is the criteria for defining a religious organization? It seems from your arguments so far that it is any business owned by a religious group which that group considers part of its mission. Missions might include businesses providing food, clothing, shelter or other services depending on a given church’s doctrine. That’s potentially a lot of businesses.

Questions about the application of the First Amendment have been handled by numerous court cases. Perhaps the most analogous to this issue is “Catholic Charities of Sacramento v Superior Court”. The lawsuit involves the WCEA law mandating contraception coverage. The Catholic Church lost that decision 6-1. One doesn’t have to agree with the decision to find it a worthwhile review of the issues the RCC would face with a First Amendment challenge for the hospitals, universities and other corporations it operates.

OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Mr. Arkadin on February 14, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Thanks for your response. I basically agree with everything you said. I thought Perry would be an effective compromise candidate, but it didn’t work out. Unfortunately we can’t choose who runs.

Ultimately, it’s ABO for me, and I can live with Romney if I have to – though I sympathize with those who can’t. Really wish he was a stronger candidate. I think ultimately he can prevail over the rest and beat Obama but he has to get his head out of the sand. I do agree with Palin that the fight is good for him – he will emerge a much stronger candidate than he would have if he’d been coronated after 3-4 state contests.

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 7:25 PM

Only 59%, even before his violation of the Constitution?

Damn Catholics, of which I’m one, persistently have their heads up their backsides. Being Catholic to most is an inconvenience, and this poll to me reflects that.

madmonkphotog on February 14, 2012 at 7:28 PM

oops indeed.
rasmussen is a propaganda outfit.
sesquipedalian on February 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Rasmussen: 59% of likely Catholic voters nationwide

Gallup: 46% of Catholics by frequency of church attendance

Which is more relevant?

Mr_Magoo on February 14, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Apologies: that is 46% approve on the Gallup poll

Mr_Magoo on February 14, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Conclusion: Little has changed according to Gallup for Catholics who attend church. So what?

Mr_Magoo on February 14, 2012 at 7:33 PM

rasmussen is a propaganda outfit.
sesquipedalian on February 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Gallup is trying to frame the debate in a way to make Obama look good and the Catholic Bishops look bad – or ineffective. So who is the real propogandist?

Rasmussen rightly polls likely voters – again. It’s the only statistic that is relevant.

Mr_Magoo on February 14, 2012 at 7:37 PM

One doesn’t have to agree with the decision to find it a worthwhile review of the issues the RCC would face with a First Amendment challenge for the hospitals, universities and other corporations it operates.

OptionsTrader on February 14, 2012 at 5:46 PM

You may be right. Let’s hope it will go our way. If it doesn’t, at least that provides motivation to vote GOP in November and get this repeal on the road.

Missy on February 14, 2012 at 7:50 PM

That means 41 percent do not strongly disapprove? That’s still pretty high. I may know one of them. My experience with my usual-suspect, “practicing” Catholic dyed-in-the-wool Democrat co-worker says there’s no hope for them. George is the one who reads his spam fund-raising e-mails out loud to the office, “Hey guys, Nancy Pelosi just e-mailed me….” You don’t have to be Catholic to be disturbed by this abortion drug thing and it’s frankly kind of disturbing that it should take this to jog them loose from their Leftist overlords. But this 41 percent, including my colleague George, their thought patterns are socked in by media fog. Just yesterday I brought up two separate topics to him: 1) this contraceptive issue and 2) that our company will likely drop the health plan next year due to Obamacare, thank you very much, George. On both attempts to get through his eyes glazed over. For real. I had never actually seen that happen. And he changed the subject. On the first try he started talking about some TV show. On the other he diverted to the SI swimsuit issue. Yes, George, I do believe they are real. Ho boy. No hope.

curved space on February 15, 2012 at 6:50 AM

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