New York Times writer, Timothy Egan writes:
Rick Santorum doesn’t just wear his religion on his sleeve, he billboards it in neon. Still, for all the flash and sparks generated by an ostentatiously Catholic candidate’s crusade for the presidency, one thing has been missing from most discussions: the actual Catholic voter.
But with Tuesday’s primary results, we now have extensive exit polling from three major states in the Catholic belt across the Midwest. The verdict from Michigan, Ohio and now Illinois is consistent: a majority of Republican Catholic voters are giving a thumb’s down to Santorum.
In Illinois, where more than a third of Tuesday’s Republican electorate was Catholic according to the exit polls, Santorum lost the Catholic vote by a what-part-of-no-don’t-you-understand 23 points – a much bigger margin than with all voters…
New York Times Frank Bruni
Many Kinds of Catholic
By FRANK BRUNI
If Catholicism is measured by obeisance to the pope, his cardinals and the letter of Vatican law, then Rick Santorum is the best Catholic to ever get this far in presidential politics.
He doesn’t just oppose abortion as a private matter of personal conscience. He has made that position a defining crusade.
He hasn’t just been fruitful and multiplied. He has promulgated the church’s formal prohibition against artificial birth control, yanking this issue, too, into the public square.
On homosexuality, premarital sex, pornography and more, he doesn’t just take his cues from church dictums. He trumpets that alignment as a testament to the steadfastness of his devotion, the integrity of his faith.
And for this he has been rewarded with a truly noteworthy level of Catholic support.
Noteworthy because it’s so underwhelming.
Exit polling suggests that he lost the Catholic vote to Mitt Romney, a Mormon, by 7 percentage points in Michigan and by 13 in Ohio. These weren’t isolated cases. In primary after primary, more Catholics have gravitated to Romney than to Santorum (or, for that matter, to Newt Gingrich, a Catholic-come-lately who collaborated with his third wife to make a worshipful documentary about Pope John Paul II).
This is a hurdle that Santorum must overcome to win the primary in Illinois, whose population is about 30 percent Catholic. And it’s yet more proof of most American Catholics’ estrangement from an out-of-touch, self-consumed church hierarchy and its musty orthodoxies…