The recently discovered Donald Trump tape — during which he seemingly brags about sexual assault — seems to have lost him support among Catholics, a typically split voting-demographic, reported the Catholic News Agency this week.
Catholic leaders were seemingly split over the comments from Republican nominee for president, and whether they should bar him from the White House. "You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait," Trump said in 2005 to TV host Billy Bush, in a conversation that was picked up by a hot microphone and shared by the Washington Post Friday. "And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab them by the p---y. You can do anything."
Joseph Cella, a Catholic liaison to the Trump campaign and founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, told the Catholic News Agency the comments could not be defended and were "repulsive and undignified." But he also reiterated his support for Trump, citing abortion issues and the right to "freely exercise our religious freedom."
The non-profit group CatholicVote.org, meanwhile, took a harsher tone over the weekend. "In our opinion, the viability of Donald Trump’s candidacy is now in question,” it said in a statement, via the Catholic News Agency. "Furthermore, the good many hoped to achieve, in spite of Trump’s many well-known flaws, is also now in doubt. If Donald Trump is unwilling to step aside, the Republican National Committee must act soon out of basic decency and self-preservation."
Trump already saw dwindling support among Catholics before the comments — any further exodus could be troubling for the GOP nominee in a country that is 22 percent Catholic. In July, Pew found that 56 percent of Catholics were voting for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton compared to just 39 percent for Trump. In 2012, the Catholic vote was essentially a wash. President Barack Obama earned 49 percent support, while GOP nominee Mitt Romney had 47 percent support.
Trump's campaign has been in a free fall of late. Polls have shown voters fleeing in droves, although it's possible that could be a temporary response to the tape. That latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, carried out Oct. 8-10, showed Clinton had opened up at 9 percentage point lead in a four-way race. The Real Clear politics average of polls had her up 5.5 points in a four-way race Wednesday. The polls-only election forecast from data-driven website FiveThirtyEight gave Clinton an 86.5 percent chance of winning the election Wednesday.