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New poll finds President Donald Trump losing Catholic support amid George Floyd protests

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CNA Staff, Jun 5, 2020 / 10:35 am MT (CNA).- President Trump’s favorability rating among white Catholics has dropped almost by half since March, according to a new poll.

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) reported on Thursday that President Trump’s favorability among white Catholics fell from 60% in March to 48% in April to just 37% in May.

The new poll, released June 4, was taken during a week of widespread civil unrest in several major cities, following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. The poll sampled 1,003 U.S. residents aged 18 or over and was conducted May 26-31.

The findings reflect other national polls showing a general growing disapproval for Trump in recent weeks, andt registering broad disapproval for his handling of the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Though, according to PPRI’s findings, Trump still has the approval of half of overall respondents in election battleground states, with his approval in those states having increased to 50% from 38% in April.

The PPRI poll was conducted under the direction of SSRS, a polling and research firm widely used by media outlets, political pollsters, and market researchers. PPRI, however, has been the recipient of grants for research supporting LGBT initiatives.

In 2017, CNA reported that PRRI had received around $450,000 from the Arcus Foundation to create “comprehensive state maps” of public attitudes on religious exemptions and non-discrimination policies.

A list of Arcus Foundation grantees shows a 2019 grant for $150,000 for “nine months” of support for “polling research on LGBT acceptance and other social change issues in the U.S.” In 2018, the foundation also provided a grant of $150,000 for a year of such polling research.

PRRI’s poll numbers among Catholics mark a sharp change from a recent Pew Research Center poll on Trump’s handling of the new coronavirus pandemic, conducted at the beginning of May.

The May Pew report showed that, while Americans overall characterized Trump’s response to the pandemic as either “fair” or “poor” by a margin of 59%-41%, white Catholics approved of his response as “excellent” or “good” by a margin of 55%-45%. In that same poll, however, 70% of Hispanic Catholics said Trump’s response was “fair” or “poor.”

Earlier in 2020, an EWTN News/RealClearOpinion Research poll showed that almost six-in-ten white non-Hispanic Catholics approved of Trump’s presidency.

According to the poll of 1,512 Catholic registered voters conducted from Jan. 28 through Feb. 4, 58% of white non-Hispanic Catholics approved of Trump “strongly” or “somewhat,” and 53% said they were either sure to vote for him in November or there was a “strong chance” they would.

Trump’s approval rating among Catholics overall was at less than half in the EWTN poll, in part due to overwhelmingly negative reviews by Hispanic Catholics who disapproved of him 71% to 29%. A smaller subset of devout Catholics, who said they accepted all the Church’s teachings, showed strong approval of his presidency, 63% to 37%.

The Catholic vote has largely mirrored the overall popular vote in recent presidential elections.

According to initial 2016 election exit polls, Trump won the Catholic vote, but data released since then appears to contest that claim. The American National Election Studies (ANES) in 2017 reported that Clinton won the Catholic vote in 2016, 48% to 45%. And according to the February poll commissioned by EWTN News, Catholics who voted in 2016 favored Hillary Clinton by a narrow margin, 48% to Trump’s 46%.

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