Has the “Francis Effect” Transformed into “Francis Fatigue” in America?

Francis Fatigue

Photos adapted from: Didier Baertschiger and Long Thiên, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Pope’s approval rating has declined among Americans, leading many to think the “Francis Effect” may have worn off.

David Gibson of the Religion News Service believes “Francis Fatigue” may be setting in as recent polling shows that the approval rating for the pontiff among Americans has declined sharply since February.

At that time, 76% of Americans viewed Pope Francis in a favorable light.  This included an amazing 90% approval rating among Catholics.  However, his overall approval rating dropped to 59% among all Americans according to the recent polling

The decline was most marked amongst conservatives and Republicans dropping from an approval rating of 72% in 2014 to 45% now

This decline within the ranks of the political right could stem from the Pope’s environmental encyclical in which he called climate change “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day”.

Further, Pope Francis’ has railed against the “idolatry of money” and income inequities and has left many conservative Catholic commentators, such as Elizabeth Scalia, feeling “harangued” and “harped on”.

But the rating dropped on the left as well.  Among liberals, approval declined from 82% to 68% and it dropped from 79% to 71% among moderates.  This could be because Pope Francis has not altered the Catholic viewpoint on abortion or same-sex marriage.    

These data are released just two months before the Pope travels to New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.  When in the nation’s capital, he will become the first pope to address a joint session of Congress. 

Historically, Popes have received a bump in approval ratings among Americans after visits to the United States

This current poll was conducted via landlines and cellphones between July 8th and 12th.  More than 1,000 adults were surveyed nationwide, and the results carry a 4% margin of error.  


Follow the Conversation on Twitter