Trump and Evangelicals

Although it is ignored by the media more often than not, not all Evangelical voters are defined by their religion, just like not all African-Americans are solely defined by their race, or gay people are defined by their sexuality.  Oh, sure, there’s plenty of commonalities and some real basis for making political conclusions, but we need to stop being so shocked that Trump is winning among evangelical voters.  538:

But by Saturday evening it was too late; South Carolina had voted and Bush had managed to win only 7 percent of evangelicals. Instead, a plurality — 34 percent — went for Donald Trump, about the same share as the state’s GOP primary voters overall.

According to the Edison Research/National Election Pool, evangelicals even chose Trump over contenders like Marco Rubio (21 percent) and Ted Cruz (26 percent) who frequently cite their Christian backgrounds as a guidepost. Cruz, who won the Iowa Caucuses and outperformed polls largely based on evangelical support, has a national prayer team. Trump couldn’t or wouldn’tname his favorite verse of the Bible and has made gaffes includingmisnaming one of its books.

Trump’s win among evangelicals was a bit of a surprise to the media — the cable networks hammered away at the issue, and on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd peppered Cruz with questions about why he lost the group that had supported him in Iowa. But the South Carolina results show evangelicals are a diverse group with sometimes differing priorities. [emphasis mine] Trump did well among less-conservative evangelicals but not among those who want a candidate who shares their values. And after all, two-thirds of South Carolina evangelicals voted for one of the other candidates instead.

Hey, roughly 1/4 of white Evangelicals identify as Democrats, of course they are not monolithic.  And, you can have a particular style of loving Jesus and still love Donald Trump because he’s the only one willing to defy political correctness and let us know that most of the Mexican immigrants are rapists and murderers and that most of the Muslims coming to this country are out to ruin the American way of life, and damnit, Donald Trump is just all about winning.  No reason you can’t believe all that and that abortion and gays are ruining America.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

3 Responses to Trump and Evangelicals

  1. ohwilleke says:

    I suspect that a substantial share of white Evangelical Democrats (especially in the South) are older Dixiecrats who did not rethink their terminology for their political identity even when realignment (which is now complete at the federal level, but not always at the state level in the South) occurred.

    Many probably vote mostly for Republicans in federal elections and for conservative Dixiecrats in state and local elections, and don’t identify as Republicans because it is still too appalling to them to be affiliated with a political party in which the hated Abraham Lincoln played an important part. As these folks who are mostly in their 60s or older, age out, I fully expect the percentage of white Evangelicals who are Democrats in the South to fall.

    Maybe 10%-15% of white Evangelicals are genuine liberal Democrats comparable to their Democratic party compatriots in other parts of the country.

    • Jon K says:

      I disagree. I know many white evangelicals who are Democrats. They embrace what is called the social gospel. It is best expressed by Jesus in Matthew 25:

      Now when the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them from one another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world! 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something[a] to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something[b] to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me as a guest, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you cared for me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,[c] or thirsty and give you something[d] to drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you[e] as a guest, or naked and clothe you?[f] 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ 40 And the king will answer and[g] say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, in as much as you did it[h] to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it[i] to me.’

  2. rgbact says:

    Good post. I also get annoyed with the “evangelicals are all the same” media narrative that they try with most identity groups.. While they certainly are pre-disposed to being Republican, I suspect many aren’t conservatives. Heck, I’m Catholic and I probably disagree with the current Pope on most political issues. I suppose diversity is good, maybe.

    Anyway, John McCain won SC in 2008 and challenged Bush well in 2000. SC just isn’t the conservative hotbed people make it. If you’re a moderate thats pro-military, you’ll do well, even with the evangelicals

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