President-elect Barack Obama won 13 of the nation’s 15 most populous states in the Nov. 4 election. That placed California, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts and Indiana in the Obama column, while John McCain captured only Texas and Georgia on that list.
But how did Obama do relative to McCain in “Catholic” states? Based on figures from the Official Catholic Directory, he did just as strongly.
There are two numerical measures that can be looked at: Catholic population within a state and the percentage of Catholics in a state’s total population.
Based on Catholic population, Obama won in 12 of the 15 most populous Catholic states. McCain took Texas (third most populous), Louisiana (13th) and Arizona (15th), but Obama captured California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Minnesota.
By the other measure, percentage of the population that is Catholic — which includes smaller states — Out of the top 15 of those states, Obama swept 11: Rhode Island (the nation’s only Catholic-majority state at 59.5 percent), Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Nevada, Illinois, Delaware, Wisconsin, California, New Mexico and New Hampshire. McCain took Louisana (12th on that list) and Texas (13th).
McCain won nine of the 10 states with the lowest percentage of Catholics in the population. From the lowest number of Catholics to the highest, those are: Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Alaska and Utah. In Catholic population those states range from 2.3 percent to 8.7 percent. North Carolina, which Obama took, is 4 percent Catholic.
By the same token, McCain also won the 13 states that have the fewest Catholics: Wyoming, Alaska, West Virgnia, Montana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Dakota, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Oklahoma and South Carolina. The District of Columbia (not a state, as its residents will readily remind you) has a Catholic population estimated at 100,000 by the Archdiocese of Washington — placing it between West Virginia and Montana, and with three electoral votes — was in Obama’s camp.