Catholics Like Rudy

There’s plenty of interesting data to mine in the new L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll which shows Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani opening up wide leads over their respective rivals.

But the one thing that caught my eye above all else is the difference between Giuliani’s performance among the religious right and among Republican Catholics. Conventional wisdom dictates that both groups would be offended by Giuliani’s support of abortion and gay rights.

One of the few categories in which Rudy trails Fred Thompson is among religious-right voters, which reflects the deep suspicion of the former mayor evidenced at last weekend’s Values Voter summit. (Thompson has 24 percent to Rudy’s 23 percent, according to the poll.) But among Catholic voters included in the poll of Republican primary voters, Rudy is trouncing Thompson 35 percent to 10 percent.

Now, it has been amply documented that Rudy is not exactly the standard-bearer of Catholic doctrine, but the poll shows that fact to be largely irrelevant to lay Catholics, even conservative ones. And as it gets closer and closer to primary season, it’s increasingly hard to explain away the support by saying that they aren’t yet sufficiently familiar with his pro-choice positions.