According to exit polls from last night’s New York primary, Catholic Democrats in the Empire State did not notably reward Vermont Sanders’ recent outreach to Pope Francis, actually siding with Hillary Clinton at a slightly higher rate than the overall population.
In a hard-fought result, Clinton defeated Sanders in New York overall by a margin of 58 to 42 percent, claiming 135 delegates to 104 for Sanders.
According to exit polls published Wednesday morning by the New York Times, Clinton also defeated Sanders among self-identified Catholics by a slightly higher margin, 60 to 40 percent.
Catholics made up 27 percent of Democratic primary voters on Tuesday.
Sanders had made a point of soliciting Catholic voters in the run-up to Tuesday’s primary, expressing his admiration for the teaching of Pope Francis on economic justice and even traveling to a Vatican conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, after which he briefly exchanged greetings with the pontiff.
Francis later described that greeting as “common courtesy” and said anyone who saw a political statement in it should “find a psychiatrist.”
In the end, the only religious subgroup among New York Democrats where Sanders had a clear edge was those who said they have no religious affiliation, where Sanders had an edge of 59 percent to 41.
For her part, Clinton did even better among Protestants and other Christians in New York, winning that bloc among Democratic voters by a margin of 63 to 37 percent.
Sanders had previously vowed to continue his bid for the White House no matter what happened in New York, and last night he told reporters upon arriving back in Vermont, “We believe we have the momentum, and we believe we have a path of victory.”
He’ll have another chance to appeal to the Catholic vote among Democrats next week, when five states vote with significant concentrations of Catholics: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.