Catholics & Democrats
To the Editor:
I was very interested to read Seymour Martin Lipset’s “Some Statistics on Bigotry in Voting” [October]. . . . I would tend to agree with his analysis of the Smith campaign, and feel that he is undoubtedly on the right track in regard to the Kennedy campaign as well. . . .
(The Rt. Rev.) James A. Pike
Diocese of California
San Francisco, California
To the Editor:
One error mars Seymour Lipset’s otherwise lucid article. He concludes from an early statistical study (by William Ogburn and Nell Talbot) of the Smith-Hoover election that prohibition, not Catholicism, figured as the leading issue in 1928. But Lipset’s conclusion is invalid, for the study investigated only the Smith vote. Curiously, the Hoover vote, where the anti-Catholic and dry sentiment presumably lay, escaped Ogburn and Talbot’s analysis.
My own view . . . is that Catholicism was the overriding issue in 1928. As Samuel Lu-bell and others have pointed out, the most important fact about the 1928 returns was the size of the Democratic vote. According to recent computer work, the closest correlate of this vote was a high Catholic population . . ., Whether urban or rural, foreign-or native-born, Democratic or Republican, Catholics voted for Al Smith with an accord that easily overcame anti-Catholic votes,
Catholic loyalty to the Democratic party persisted long after 1928. It is only recently that younger Catholic voters, for whom 1928 is but a vicarious experience, have been enticed away from the party. The injection of Catholicism into the 1960 campaign, for better or worse, re-cemented political loyalties of the largest religious group in the United States.
New York City