Pa. Catholics Go for Clinton; Protestants Split by Race

By Jennifer Agiesta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York scored big victories among some of Pennsylvania's religious voters in Tuesday's Democratic primary, tallying wide margins over Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois among white Catholics, Jewish voters and those who regularly attend religious services, according to exit polls. But Protestants and the most active religious voters split along racial lines.

In amassing her 10 percentage point win, Clinton had one of her strongest showings among white Catholics, who gave her a 44 percentage point margin over Obama and made up nearly a third of Keystone state Democratic primary voters. Among the most devout in this group, those who attend Mass at least weekly, Clinton won 3 to 1.

White Catholics have been a Clinton mainstay throughout the nomination contest. She has won the group by double-digits in 16 of the 22 states where data were available. In Pennsylvania, Clinton won 70 percent of all Catholics.

But among Protestants and other Christians, Obama's six percentage point win masks a sharp racial fissure. Black Protestants went for Obama, 93 percent to 7 percent, while white Protestants broke for Clinton, 59 to 41.

Voters who attend religious services weekly gave Clinton a double-digit margin, but this group, too, was divided by race. Black voters gave Obama a nearly 80-point margin, while whites went for Clinton by 36 points.

In the final 10 days, the campaign became focused on the role of religion after Obama made remarks at a San Francisco fundraiser that small town and rural voters "cling" to their faith because of government inaction. But Obama's overtures to this group were not successful. Among white rural and small town voters who attend services weekly, Clinton won 71 percent to 29 percent.

Obama prevailed by 24 points among nonreligious Pennsylvanians and by 10 points among those who rarely attend religious services.

Clinton won more than six in 10 Jewish voters, who made up 8 percent of voters in Tuesday's contest.

The National Election Pool's Pennsylvania exit poll includes interviews with 2,217 Democratic primary voters conducted at 40 polling places and has an error of margin of four percentage points.

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