POSTED: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 5:43pm
UPDATED: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 10:18pm
A new survey of the Hispanic community produced some surprises.
Religious affiliations are changing, and that can influence politics.
The Public Religion Research institute conducted their annual Hispanic Values survey last month, and the results are all over the map.
First of all, the Latino community is leaving the Catholic Church.
“So we found that 69% of Hispanics living in the US were raised Catholic or raised in Catholic households,” says Dan Cox of the Institute. “But currently, only a slim majority around 53%, currently identify as Catholic. So that’s a 16% drop, which is pretty significant. We’re also seeing gains spread out between unaffiliated with a 7-point gain over that time period, and a 6-point gain among evangelical protestants.”
But surprisingly, they like the new Pontiff.
“Yeah,” Cox said, “and surprisingly, we’ve seen that also true among Americans. They like Pope Francis actually a little better than the Catholic church overall.”
And this change in religious affiliation has political consequences as well.
“They are definitely more conservative on the culteral issues but they agree with Hispanics overall on the economic issues like health care, taxation and the minimum wage,” said Cox.
So, Hispanics lean Democratic, but it isn’t a love affair. And Republicans have big hurdles to overcome.
“So, while roughly 60% of Hispanics have a favorable view of the Democratic Party,” he says, “it’s not overwhelmingly favorable.”
The bad news for Republicans is that health care is very important to Hispanics. The bad news for Democrats is that health care is very important to Hispanics.
“Hispanic voters looking at the two parties,” Cox concluded, “they know they don’t like the GOP at present, so the Democratic Party is really their only option at the moment.”
So, the Latino population is in flux religiously.
And while it isn’t up for grabs politically, there are opportunities for both parties.