The poll of the Public Religion Research Institute, released Tuesday, showed 60 percent of Catholics said they believe the church should focus more on social justice and serving the needs of the poor, and less on abortion and right-to-life issues, while 31 percent said they feel the opposite.
"Social justice" Catholics prefer President Obama's candidacy over Mitt Romney's by 60 percent to 37 percent while "right-to-life Catholics favor Romney, 67 percent to 27 percent, it said.
"The survey confirms there is no such thing as 'the Catholic vote,'" said report co-author Robert P. Jones. "There are a number of critical divisions among Catholics."
Voters with no religious affiliation, 19 percent of the electorate, favor Obama by 73 percent to 22 percent, but are less likely to say they are certain to vote, compared to religiously affiliated voters, 61 percent to 73 percent, the poll found.
The survey was based on 3,003 telephone interviews conducted in September, including 1,201 respondents who were interviewed on cellphones. Its margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.