Sure, we’ve heard lots about how evangelicals overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump and then the after-doom and gloom of evangelical leaders considering turning in their born-again credentials. But it turns out the really decisive demographic in the election was Roman Catholics (from one of our southern correspondents):
You only think you know what won the election for Donald Trump.
Hillary’s corruption? The betrayal of the American Dream? Vladimir Putin? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Let me tell you the real story, and the person behind it.
Elections are won by the marginal voter, the swing voter, the guy right at 50 percent. And in American politics he’s generally a Catholic. That’s the story this time, too.
It wasn’t the white Evangelicals. They went overwhelmingly for Trump, but that was also true in 2012 when they weren’t even sure Romney was Christian. They aren’t the swing voters.
Catholics, on the other hand, were plus-2 for Obama in 2012 and plus-7 for Trump this year. Evangelicals helped Trump in states he was mostly going to win anyway. Catholics? Now we’re talking about Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. And that was the election.
It nearly didn’t happen. Trump’s outreach people were tone-deaf about Catholic voters. They were putting their eggs in baskets marked Evangelicals, African-Americans and Hispanics. Catholics were of secondary importance.
But one Catholic leader, Deal Hudson, didn’t believe this, and he single-handedly organized a big-name Catholic Advisory Committee, a conference call with state campaign directors, a conference call between Trump and Catholic leaders, a tweet and video from Trump when Mother Teresa was canonized and an interview with Trump on the Catholic EWTN television network.
Meanwhile, the liberal press ran stories about how Catholics hated Trump and bishops condemned Trump’s immigration rhetoric. As for the Catholic intellectuals, they mostly went full-bore NeverTrump (with some honorable exceptions, such as Jim Piereson and Roger Kimball).
You mean all those stories about evangelical voters were fake? The wrong narrative?