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Three-Fourths of Latino Catholics Back Obama in Pew Poll

Hispanic Catholics support President Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney by a margin of more than 3 to 1 while about eight in 10 Latinos with no religious ties back the president, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

The survey of registered voters, released today, found a split between Hispanic Catholics and Latinos who are evangelical Protestants, with just half of the latter group backing Obama and 39 percent for Romney. Hispanic support for Obama far exceeds that of non-Hispanic white Catholics, who are evenly split between the candidates, Pew said.

“Among all Latinos, you’re seeing some very strong support for the president,” Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center, said in a telephone interview.

Of the nation’s 51.9 million Hispanics, 23.7 million -- about 11 percent of the electorate -- are eligible to vote. Catholics make up 57 percent of Hispanic voters, the survey said. Registered Latino voters who are Catholic favored Obama over Romney, 73 percent to 19 percent, according to the survey.

The Washington-based nonprofit research organization also found that 71 percent of Hispanics who are Catholic are Democrats, while 21 percent are Republicans. A Pew poll released earlier this month found Hispanic registered voters favored Obama, 69 to 21 percent.

Gay Marriage

The poll shows some changing attitudes among Hispanics on social issues. More than half now support same-sex marriage, up from 31 percent as recently as 2006. Fifty-four percent of Hispanic Catholics said they approve of gay and lesbian marriage, about the same number as non-Hispanic Catholics. Forty-eight percent of the general public favors same-sex marriage, while 44 percent are opposed.

More than 70 percent of religiously unaffiliated Hispanics, who make up 15 percent of Hispanic voters, said they support gay and lesbian marriage, about the same percentage as all people who don’t identify with any church.

Two-thirds of Hispanic evangelical Protestants told Pew they opposed gay marriage. Seventy-six percent of white, non-Hispanic evangelicals are against it.

The poll of 1,765 Hispanic adults by the Pew Hispanic Center and Pew Forum on Religion and Life was conducted from Sept. 7 through Oct. 4. It has an error margin of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

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