THE ROMAN CATHOLIC VOTE…. A year ago, according to exit polls, President Obama won 53% of the Catholic vote, seven points stronger than John Kerry’s total from 2004. A Politico item suggests the debate over health care reform in general, and the Stupak amendment in particular, may push Roman Catholic voters into the Republican camp.

By teeing up a public battle over abortion in the health care bill now before the Senate, congressional Democrats could be risking more than just the fate of the legislation.

Hanging in the balance are millions of Catholic swing voters who moved decisively to the Democrats in 2008 and who could shift away just as readily in 2010. […]

[Democratic] gains will be at risk if a polarizing abortion fight takes place in the Senate.

I’m really not sure why. It’s an inconvenient detail for many involved, but in the United States, pro-choice Catholics outnumber pro-life Catholics. Adherents are no doubt well aware of the church’s unyielding position on the issue, but it hasn’t much of an effect on how rank-and-file, self-identified Catholics feel about reproductive rights for American women.

Indeed, last year, there were plenty of attempts to go after the Obama campaign on this very issue. It obviously didn’t make a difference.

I’m not altogether sure what the point of the Politico article even is. There’s a possibility that a debate over premiums vs. subsidies that might indirectly subsidize abortions will push Catholic voters away from Democrats? I guess it’s possible, but it’s at least equally possible that this debate won’t have any meaningful impact at all.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.