Evangelicals don’t think or vote as a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter solidified voting block.
But they do comprise the majority (or plurality) of voters who lean Republican in every Super Tuesday state except for Massachusetts, which is why their influence in the voting booth is critical.
According to Pew Research data, 56 percent of evangelicals are Republican; 28 percent are Democrats. Pew notes that in 2016, more evangelicals are Republicans than they were in 2007.
Discerning evangelical voting patterns and preferences is problematic for several reasons. First, who is actually a genuine Christian? How is Christianity defined, and what does the term “evangelical” even mean? (Consternation over if they should vote, and for whom, includes evangelicals who have left the Republican Party altogether.)
Second, polling companies have difficulty and inconsistency in identifying Christians and evangelicals. Most polls identify categories/beliefs by self-identification— instead of identifying behavior (how people live or what they believe).
Pew Research has sought to identify the “true number” of evangelical voters. However, even this data does not adequately portray how they vote. “When it comes to politics,” Pew Research Center’s associate director, Greg Smith, told NPR, “the data show that they are really at totally opposite ends of the spectrum.”
Third, and for varying reasons, different polls project different results/outcomes for voting indicators, and especially for the 2016 Election cycle.
One the one hand, most polls indicate that evangelical leaders are solidly split on presidential picks.
When it comes to Christian pastors, according to a survey conducted by LifeWay Research, pastors were asked which candidate they would vote for if they had to choose that very day. Donald Trump was named by 5 percent of the respondents.
But– more than one third (39 percent) of these pastors said they were “undecided.” And, 48 percent said they had “no top choice” in this “bizarre election season,” according to LifeWay Research’s executive director Ed Stetzer.
When it comes to the front-runner, Donald Trump, according to Reuters, church attendance impacts how a person votes. The more one attends church, the less likely they are to vote for Trump, it reports. Likewise, the Wall Street Journal reports that Trump supporters identify as the “least-religious.”
On the other hand, another Pew Research poll indicates that half of white evangelical voters (52%) believe Trump would be a “good/great president;” 3 in 10 (29%) believe he would be “poor/terrible.”
Who are these self-identifying evangelical Republicans?
According to Pew Research data, 56 percent of evangelicals are Republican; 28 percent are Democrats. Pew notes that today, more evangelicals are Republicans than they were in 2007.
Christians who identify as evangelical and who are most likely to vote Republican, include:
- Southern Baptists (64%),
- The Church of the Nazarene (63%),
- Presbyterian Church in America (60%),
- Church of Christ (50%), and
- Seventh-day Adventists (35%).
In the first four caucus/primary states, evangelicals votes for Trump varied:
- In Iowa, 22 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump compared to 29 percent of non-evangelicals,
- In New Hampshire, 27 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump compared to 38 percent of non-evangelicals,
- In Nevada, 40 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump compared to half of non-evangelicals,
- In South Carolina, roughly one third (34%) of self-identifying evangelicals voted for Trump, compared to 29 percent of non-evangelicals.
Yet still, according to Barna surveys, researchers found a 38 point difference along “Trump’s favorability spectrum,” from one extreme to the other.
Overall– one outcome was quite clear: evangelicals overwhelmingly identified which candidate they like least, or detest: Hillary Clinton. She received a negative score of -61 percent.
And while evangelical consternation continues, the singular most important issue no one is addressing about the 2016 election– is CAIR.
Instead of Trump or anyone else, evangelical and Christian voters should protest CAIR’s concerted effort to register voters in mosques, which should instead be shut down. CAIR’s goal of ushering in one million Muslims to vote for pro-Sharia, pro-Democrat candidates, is the most troubling aspect of this election by far.
This article was first published on March 1, 2016.