The Note

"Catholics are particularly important in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, making up 25% to 30% of the vote in that part of the country, says Bush campaign strategist Ralph Reed. 'In a very close election, if you increase or swing that constituency by 10%, that's 100,000 votes in every one of those states.'"

"Protestants favored President Bush by a 19-point margin in the Time poll (55%-36%), and those who are neither Protestant nor Catholic gave Kerry an edge of more than 50 percentage points (73%-21%). Catholics divided nearly right down the middle: 45% for Kerry; 43% for Bush."

"Among Catholics who consider themselves very religious, Bush enjoys a 23-point majority; among those who say they are not very religious, Kerry leads by more than 46 percentage points, and among those who say they are somewhat religious-a group nearly as big as the other two combined-Bush held a statistically insignificant 47%-43% lead."

With a heart-warming Minnesota byline, the Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein and Fay Fiore look at a single variable that tracks with Democratic and Republican votes: frequency of church attendance.

"In 2000, against the backdrop of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, that divide accelerated, with exit polls showing that about three-fifths of Americans who went to church once a week or more voted for Republican George W. Bush, and more than three-fifths of those who never attended services preferred Democrat Al Gore. " LINK

"Bush's open expression of Christian faith creates a personal bond that transcends his specific decisions as president . . . Bush may face a greater challenge in maintaining his elevated support among regular churchgoers in Catholic and mainline Protestant congregations where liberal social-justice messages tend to resound more powerfully and the Iraq war has stirred deep ambivalence."

The duo also described how the religious divide has affected campaigns for more than 30 years. LINK

Scott Higham of the Washington Post on Sunday turned in a look at the Defense Department memos detailing life behind the "wire" for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay that will bet will figure prominently in Democratic Party opposition memos this week. For the first time, Higham Notes, the documents outline the concerns of the International Committee of the Red Cross -- that prisoners were held in isolation for up to a month at a time for refusing to talk, long interrogation sessions that had a "cumulative effect" on the mental health of prisoners, and open-air cages rather than prison cells. LINK

On Sunday, Brownstein reported on the joint statement to be released this week by 26 former diplomats and military officials, Diplomats and Military Commanders in Charge, who say that President Bush's foreign policy has hurt America's national security, and arguing that he should be defeated in the fall. Brownstein Notes that several who are signing the statement served under President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, in addition to those who have aligned themselves with Sen. Kerry. LINK

On Saturday, AP's Ron Fournier expanded the story he broke on Friday, laying out the tick-tock of the Kerry-McCain dance. LINK

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