Catholic Super PAC Will Spend for Santorum

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 6 2012 11:41 AM

Catholic Super PAC Will Spend for Santorum

BARRINGTON, N.H.—Maybe it's a fluke, and my radar for pre- and post-speech voter interviews is buggy. So far, all but one of the voters I've talked to at Rick Santorum events have been Catholics.

It makes perfect sense. In 2008, 38 percent of the voters who turned out for the New Hampshire GOP primary were Catholics—only 31 percent were protestants. The Catholic vote in the Democratic primary was 35 percent, and those voters broke for Hillary Clinton by 20 points; she only won the state by 3. There is, theoretically, a moving mass of conservative Catholic voters, the sort of people Santorum has always tried to win (straining at the limits of blue collar/labor party loyalty), and for the first time ever they have a Republican candidate from the faith.

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Do they know it? Catholic Vote, a six-year-old political committee, has endorsed Santorum, with its current president admitting that it should have been done ages ago. Co-founder and spokesman Joshua Mercer tells me that the group's super PAC, the Catholic Vote Candidate Fund, will buy radio ads in New Hampshire (where it has 3,000 members), and TV ads in South Carolina.

"He doesn't need to win New Hampshire, but he can keep up the momentum," says Mercer. "I think that now that he's proven he can win, you're going to see Catholics coalesce around him."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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