January 22, 2015

House Catholics are trending Republican

Catholics in CongressMore House Republicans in the new, 114th Congress identify as Catholic than in any other recent Congress, and they now outnumber Catholic Democrats in the House, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Although the difference is slight – there are now 69 Catholic Republicans and 68 Catholic Democrats in the House of Representatives – the new balance is a departure from the previous three Congresses (2009-2014). Indeed, just six years ago, there were more than two and a half times as many Catholic Democrats (98) as Catholic Republicans (37) in the House.

Catholics in CongressWhat’s behind the shift? While the increased total number of GOP Catholics in the House can be partially explained by the Republicans’ steady gain of seats during the last three elections, the share of GOP members who identify as Catholic also has grown from the 111th Congress (21%) to the 114th (28%). Meanwhile, the percentage of Catholics among House Democrats has dropped slightly, from 38% to 36%, over that same time period.

This shift in party affiliation among Catholics in Congress is mirrored in part by the citizens they represent. Among registered voters, white Catholics have trended in a more Republican direction in recent years. In 2014, white Catholics identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party (53%) more than the Democratic Party (39%).

However, Hispanic Catholics remain more than twice as likely to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party as the Republican Party.

Among current House members of both parties, about three-in-ten are Catholic (32%) – a share that has remained fairly steady over the last four Congresses. Catholics remain the second-largest religious group in the House, after Protestants (58%).

The Senate, which elects members to six-year terms, has seen little change in the total number or the party affiliation of Catholics in recent Congresses. About a fifth of Senate Republicans were Catholic in 2009 and similar share are Catholic today.

Note: Due to the resignation of Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.), this analysis includes one fewer Catholic Republican in the House compared with our initial report on the religious affiliation of the 114th Congress.

Topics: Congress, Religious Affiliation, Catholics and Catholicism

  1. Photo of Aleksandra Sandstrom

    is a copy editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Monica2 years ago

    As Governor of California, Reagan signed the Lanterman Act in 1969, calling it a “a dynamic framework on which we shall build a comprehensive system” to assure that people with disabilities develop to their potential. He was right. The Lanterman Act was a visionary, landmark piece of legislation and the system it created has resulted in concrete and dramatic improvements affecting the quality of life of people with disabilities. The system’s reliance on private businesses to provide the services (disclosure: I founded and run one of these businesses) has resulted in innovation and tremendous cost savings to the state.

    Prior to the Lanterman Act, people with disabilities often ended up in state hospitals, called Developmental Centers, where inhumane conditions and treatment were all-too common. The Developmental Centers were expensive. They are expensive. (Reform is a slow process, and the state has just nearly finished shutting down the system entirely.) Community-based programs typically cost just a small fraction of what the Developmental Centers cost.

    Follow me below the fold for more on why this entitlement program is under attack and facing nearly a billion dollar in cuts…interesting how the DEMOCRAT Governor Jerry Brown, has sought to cut funds to the disabled…mmmmmmm

  2. CL3 years ago

    So what.

    Id like to see a list of who is who Rs vs Ds!! catholics can be 80% of all of Congress and if they don’t act like it–SO WHAT!!

  3. Packard Day3 years ago

    Remarkable news…and just as Pope Francis is trending Democratic. Or should I say, “socialist?” But I repeat myself.

  4. David L Allison3 years ago

    I would like to see the crosstabs on this to indicate the location, urban vs. rural and D vs. R