Douglas Kmiec is the kind of Catholic voter the GOP usually doesn't have to think twice about. The Pepperdine law professor and former Reagan Justice Department lawyer (Samuel Alito was an office mate) attends Mass each morning. He has actively opposed abortion for most of his adult life, working with crisis pregnancy centers to persuade women not to undergo the procedure. He is a member of the conservative Federalist Society and occasionally sends a contribution to Focus on the Family.
He is also a vocal supporter of Barack Obama. Kmiec made waves in the Catholic world in late March when he endorsed the Democratic candidate. But Kmiec insists that while he still considers himself a Republican, his choice is clear this election year. "I have grave moral doubts about the war, serious doubts about the economic course Republicans have followed over the last seven years, and believe that immigration reforms won't come about by Republican hands," he says. "Senator McCain would not be the strongest advocate for the balance of things that I care about."
A new Time poll of Catholic voters reveals that Kmiec is part of a broader pattern. Although Obama was thought to have a "Catholic problem" during the Democratic primaries, in which Hillary Clinton won a majority of Catholic votes, he has pulled even with John McCain among that constituency--Obama now polls 44% to his GOP opponent's 45%.