Catholic Voter in American Politics: The Passing of the Democratic Monolith

Overview

Once a keystone of the Democratic Party, American Catholics are today helping to put Republicans in office. This book traces changes in party allegiance and voting behavior of Catholics in national elections over the course of 150 years and explains why much of the voting bloc that supported John F. Kennedy has deserted the Democratic coalition.

William B. Prendergast analyzes the relationship between Catholics and the GOP from the 1840s to 1990s. He documents a developing ...

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Overview

Once a keystone of the Democratic Party, American Catholics are today helping to put Republicans in office. This book traces changes in party allegiance and voting behavior of Catholics in national elections over the course of 150 years and explains why much of the voting bloc that supported John F. Kennedy has deserted the Democratic coalition.

William B. Prendergast analyzes the relationship between Catholics and the GOP from the 1840s to 1990s. He documents a developing attachment of Catholics to Republican candidates beginning early in this century and shows that, before Kennedy, Catholics helped elect Eisenhower, returned to the polls in support of Nixon and Reagan, and voted for a Republican Congress in 1994.

To account for this shifting allegiance, Prendergast analyzes transformations in the Catholic population, the parties, and the political environment. He attributes these changes to the Americanization of immigrants, the socioeconomic and educational advancement of Catholics, and the emergence of new issues. He also cites the growth of ecumenicism, the influence of Vatican II, the abatement of Catholic-Protestant hostility, and the decline of anti-Catholicism in the Republican party.

Clearly demonstrating a Catholic move toward political independence, Prendergast's work reveals both the realignment of voters and the influence of religious beliefs in the political arena. Provocative and informative, it confirms the opinion of pollsters that no candidate can take the vote of the largest and most diverse religious group in the nation for granted.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A past worker for the Republican Party and the US government attributes the dispersion of the once-solid Democratic Catholic vote to the Americanization of immigrants, the impact of Vatican II, and the decline of anti-Catholicism in the Republican Party. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
James Carroll
The Catholic Voter in American Politics is carefully researched, provides understandable analyses of political statistics and is clearly written. The text is an important reference for those interested in American Catholicism, politics, and the Democratic Party, Prendergast has filled a major gap in the historical record.
Cross Currents
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878407248
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

William B. Prendergast has had a distinguished career in government and politics, including as an author of Republican national platforms in four presidential elections and as director of the Research Division of the Republican National Committee. He also served as U.S. Defense Advisor to NATO and was a special assistant to the Secretary of Defense. He earlier taught political science at the U.S. Naval Academy, The Catholic University of America, and Johns Hopkins University.

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Table of Contents

Prologue
Acknowledgments
1 American Catholics: A Historical Profile 1
2 Immigrant Catholics and Elections of 1844-1860 33
3 Republicans and the Catholic Electorate 1880-1908: From Hostility to Cautious Rapprochement 69
4 The 1928 Election and the Legacy of Al Smith 93
5 Catholics After World War II: They Liked Ike 116
6 Kennedy and the Return of the Prodigals 135
7 Catholics in the Turbulent Sixties and Seventies 149
8 The Political Homogenization of American Catholics 1980-1998 176
9 The Catholic Voter: Summarizing Conclusions 219
References 227
Additional Reading 240
Index 247
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