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Biden leads Trump by 12 points among Catholic voters: poll

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds a 12-point lead over President Trump among likely voters who identify as Catholic, according to a poll released Monday.

A EWTN News/RealClear Opinion poll found in a poll of 1,212 likely Catholic voters that 53 percent favor Biden, compared to 41 percent who prefer Trump. The poll was taken before the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The poll found that 50 percent of respondents voted for 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton while 45 percent voted for Trump, a sign that Biden has widened the gap among Catholic voters.

Catholics who are more devout about going to church tend to back Trump, according to the poll. Fifty-eight percent of Catholics who attend Mass daily back the president, as do 61 percent of those who attend services more than once a week. By comparison, 69 percent of Catholics who seldom attend Mass support Biden.

Trump leads among white Catholic voters by 5 percentage points, the poll found. Among Hispanic Catholics, Biden has a commanding 63-31 lead.

The poll found that Catholics are overwhelmingly opposed to demonstrations that have devolved into defacing churches or toppling statues of prominent figures in the religion like Christopher Columbus, but respondents still trust Biden more than Trump on nearly every issue, with the exception of China trade policy.

The coronavirus pandemic also proved to be a troublesome issue for Trump among Catholic voters surveyed. Fifty-seven percent of respondents disapproved of Trump's handling of the crisis.

The EWTN/RealClear poll was conducted from Aug. 27 to Sept. 1. It surveyed 1,212 likely voters and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points. 

A poll conducted by the same outlets in late January and early February showed Biden leading Trump among Catholic voters, 51-40 in a theoretical head-to-head matchup. That poll was conducted before the first votes were cast in the Democratic primaries, and Biden has since cleared the field and been named as the party's nominee.

In 2016, 52 percent of Catholics ultimately voted for Trump, compared to 44 percent who voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to Pew Research Center.

The president has seen his support among Catholics erode, however, over the course of his presidency, which has been marked by inflammatory statements about minorities and policies that restrict the admittance of refugees and immigrants.

Trump may have a tough time turning around his support among Catholics running against Biden, who is a practicing Catholic who has openly spoken about how his faith aided him through numerous personal tragedies.

Trump last month claimed Biden would "hurt the Bible" and hurt God" as part of a speech painting a dystopian picture of the country should Biden win in November.

"Joe Biden's faith is at the core of who he is; he's lived it with dignity his entire life, and it's been a source of strength and comfort in times of extreme hardship," Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said in a statement at the time.

The president has made a concerted effort to appeal to religious voters, evangelicals in particular, with policies aimed at protecting religious liberty and the appointment of conservative judges. Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have met with the Pope since taking office.

Trump could further court Catholics if he opts to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat previously held by Ginsburg, who died last week of pancreatic cancer. 

Barrett is considered one of two favorites for the nomination, along with Judge Barbara Lagoa. Barrett's confirmation hearing in 2017 was a source of controversy after an exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that conservatives alleged was an attack on the judge's Catholic faith.

Barrett has claimed that ObamaCare's birth control mandate is "a grave violation of religious freedom" and questioned the Supreme Court's landmark abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade.

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