New Poll about Pope Francis

A new survey from Pew shows a huge increase in negative ratings of the Pope by Catholics (here). This was before the Pope’s recent order prohibiting bishops from voting on procedures to reduce child abuse. Pope Francis now has worse ratings than Pope Benedict ever had. Some of the results by subgroup are even more interesting.

First, Pew says that if you look at changes in support of Democrats vs. Republicans, Catholics are the only major religious group to show a shift. Evangelicals and main-line Protestants did not change their vote. While I am not surprised by the Evangelical data – they are not reality-based, but 'faith-based' – I am surprised at the constancy of main-line Protestants. I suspect this reflects the increasing polarization of the electorate, which implies a lower likelihood of crossing party lines.

Normally, Catholics’ ratings of the pope are the same regardless of their political affiliation. But Pew now finds Pope Francis is “viewed positively by 83 percent of Democrats, but only 61 of Catholic Republicans.” Apparently, this difference is primarily due to Pope Francis’ support for immigration, something Republicans find quite troubling – apparently even more than child abuse.

In absolute terms, Catholics are still quite supportive of the Pope. Politicians would love to have those kind of ratings. It’s not clear what it would take for the laity to reject the Pope. Time will tell.


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