On Eve of Philly Visit, Pope’s Poll Numbers Decline

But Philly visit is expected to renew his popularity.

Pope Francis’s polling numbers among Americans are at their lowest since he became pontiff two years ago — but what that mostly means is that he’s super-popular instead of stratospherically popular.

A new Gallup poll shows that 59 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the pope — down sharply from 76 percent during the last poll taken in February 2014.

While Pope Francis remains very popular with American Catholics — a 71 percent approval rating — there is one group with whom his popularity decline has been most precipitous: American Conservatives. Just 45 percent of conservatives say they view the pope favorably.

“This decline may be attributable to the pope’s denouncing of ‘the idolatry of money’ and linking climate change partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income inequality — all issues that are at odds with many conservatives’ beliefs,” Gallup noted.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict, was polling with 40 percent favorability in 2010. But Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, always polled above 60 percent in the 1980s and 1990s, averaging a 72 percent approval rating from Americans during the lifetime of his papacy.

The ratings come out two months before Pope Francis visits America — highlighted, of course, by a weekend in Philly. Gallup says it expects his approval rating to rebound with the visit.

“Pope Francis’ image may rebound once he makes his first visit to the U.S. in September,” the polling service said. “Pope John Paul II’s image was boosted by his trips to the U.S. in 1993 and 1999, and Pope Benedict received his greatest favorability rating — 63% — when he visited the U.S. in 2008.”