Pollster: Catholic Voters More Likely To Punish Romney for Position on Birth Control Coverage

During a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling reviewed the results of the poll conducted on behalf of Planned Parenthood on the question of religious exemptions from the birth control coverage requirement.

The issue, Jensen said, has the potential to have a “big impact” on the election—and not in a negative way for Barack Obama, but for Mitt Romney.

In response to the question, “Mitt Romney has pledged to eliminate the benefit that gives women birth control coverage without a co-pay. Does Romney’s position make you more or less likely to vote for him?” Forty percent of voters said less likely, only 23% said more likely, and 33% said it made no difference.

But crucially, Romney’s position and his pledge to eliminate the coverage makes Catholic voters less likely to voter for him. Among Catholic voters, only 28% said his position made them more likely to vote for him, while 46% said it would make them less likely, with 23% saying it made no difference. In other words, said Jensen, “Catholic voters, even more so than population at large, said they’d be inclined to punish Mitt Romney at the polls.”

Romney’s position, said Jensen, “really has the potential to hurt him with some of these key groups who can really go either way, Catholics, independents this fall. It doesn’t square with the image Romney may want to project at least in the in general election as a moderate on social issues.

Romney, said Jensen, is “playing with fire.”