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Poll: Trump support remains steady among evangelicals

Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump cheer at a campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Oct. 10, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Mike Segar
Supporters of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump cheer at a campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on October 10, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Mike Segar *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-TRUMP-EVANGELICALS, originally transmitted on October 11, 2016.

Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump cheer at a campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Oct. 10, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Mike Segar *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-TRUMP-EVANGELICALS, originally transmitted on Oct. 11, 2016.

(RNS) Donald Trump’s support has plummeted in the past week — but white evangelicals are sticking with him.

“Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are the only ones who are standing firm right now,” said Dan Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the poll with The Atlantic Survey.

The poll, released Tuesday (Oct. 11) — and taken during the days surrounding the release of a tape of Trump bragging about forcing himself on women — shows his support has eroded among female voters and most religious groups during the past week.

But white evangelical Protestants show no statistically significant change in their willingness to vote for Trump, with 65 percent of them in his camp.

That contrasts with white Catholics Protestants, for example, who are defecting from the Republican presidential nominee. They went for Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, 56 percent to 31 percent, in a survey concluded on Oct. 2. In this latest survey, white Catholics reversed themselves, favoring Clinton over Trump, 46 percent to 42 percent.

“For Republican candidates, white Christian voters have been crucial, and this white Christian wall — we’re starting to see cracks in it,” Cox said. “White Catholics and white mainline Protestants — they have strongly supported Republicans. They’re divided now (between Trump and Clinton). That’s amazing.”

And though there aren’t numbers yet, he added, there is evidence that Trump is underperforming among Mormons, perhaps making Utah — a historically red state — competitive in the presidential election.

2016 Presidential Vote Choice by Religious Affiliation. Graphic courtesy of PRRI

2016 Presidential Vote Choice by Religious Affiliation. Graphic courtesy of PRRI

Overall the poll shows that Clinton holds an 11-point lead over Trump and that she has increased her lead over him for the second week in a row. Nearly half (49 percent) of the poll’s 866 likely voters said they would cast a ballot for her, as opposed to 38 percent for Trump. These numbers mark a steep fall in support for Trump, and an edging upward for Clinton.

The poll — which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points — went into the field from Oct. 5-9. The tape of Trump speaking lewdly about women and boasting that he could do “anything” with them given his star power was released on Oct. 7.

But Cox warned against overestimating the effect of the tape on voters. Trump was already losing ground with women before the tape’s release. His remarks about Miss Universe’s weight gain during and after the candidates’ Sept. 26 debate helped cement his reputation as a man who degrades women.

The greatest shifts in the past week were among women. Trump’s support among female voters has dropped 5 points, to 28 percent, while his support among male voters fell 1 point, to 48 percent.

Though evangelicals are hardly budging in their willingness to vote for Trump, they have overall lent him significantly less support than they have Republican presidential nominees in the past. Traditionally, the GOP standard-bearer can expect the votes of about 80 percent of white evangelical Protestants. In this campaign, about 65 percent to 70 percent have expressed support for Trump.

But even these numbers baffle many evangelicals and nonevangelicals alike, who say his rhetoric and life story make voting for him impossible.

Trump has shown no sustained interest in his Presbyterianism, has twice divorced and has disparaged Latinos, Muslims and other groups, seeming to defy the biblical command to embrace “the stranger.”

Christianity Today, a flagship publication of evangelical Protestantism, editorialized Tuesday against Trump in a piece that argued: “Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump’s blatant immorality.”

Some evangelicals support Trump perhaps not so much because they admire him, but as a foil to Hillary Clinton, who is the focal point of much of their disdain.

But even after the release of the salacious audio Friday, evangelicals could not be faulted for wondering whether Trump’s behavior would ever tip their leaders against him — some said they would take their vote elsewhere, but plenty affirmed their support for the Republican nominee.

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)


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  • These figures seem to reveal something quite odd about voting intentions of the various groups. In general, the voting intentions of Catholics and mainstream Protestants are not too far from the overall voting intentions, but both the unaffiliated and the evangelicals are outliers.

    If these figures are true it suggests that both the unaffiliated and the evangelicals are a considerable distance in attitude from mainstream feelings.

  • Trump may well lose the election. But most evangelicals understand that if HILLARY wins, constitutional religious liberty for ALL people (Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Blacks, Whites, Browns, Gays, Straights) is repealed for the next *** 40 *** years.

    (Assuming that America survives undamaged that long, which I’m not putting any money on it.)

    If Hillary wins, she is going to stack the Supreme Court with liberal Gay Marriage Justices who will ensure that Americans lose their religious freedom under the corrosive (and likely **fatal**, if God exists) Obergefell decision.

    Trump is bad, but Hillary is far worse. She’s bringing some dark viruses that will jam America’s spiritual and moral software, and perhaps ultimately shut us down. So who you gonna vote for, hmm?

  • Your rambling would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Clinton will likely win the election and it will likely not affect your life much, if at all. Then again, if you really believe half the nonsense you are spouting, maybe you will lose something–the rest of your mind.

  • The sad thing is, you think that that’s true. And that’s probably why you’re voting for trump.

  • Yesterday I told you about the Democratic Party’s number one offence: DIVIDE AND CONQUER. Read on this since they use it for EVERYTHING. They NEED, as I said, to remove money getting INTO churches so that THEY control ALL money hand outs. The hand out will be based not on NEED. It will be based on VOTE. If the new WIKILEAKS released yesterday do not show you as Christians their REAL purpose let me know and I will pray for you twice daily rather than once daily.

  • Again, the sad thing is, you think that’s true, and that’s why you’ll vote for 2Rump, because morals don’t actually mean a thing to you. That’s why you can say things like “you’re not people, you’re fire ants.”

    Power means something to you. Feeling superior means something to you. You have morals a-plenty– of a sort. What you don’t have is principles, empathy, and a desire to understand people who are not just like you.

    If projection were a college major, you’d be graduating summa cum laude.

  • “There’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’
    You gotta keep it beatin’ for all the hoppin’ cretins
    Cretin, cretin
    I’m gonna go for a whirl with my cretin girl
    My feet won’t stop doin’ the Cretin Hop
    Cretin, cretin
    One-two-three-four, cretins want to hop some more
    Four-five-six-seven, all good cretins go to heaven”
    -The Ramones

  • Adultery
    Hostility to women

    Yep those are Christian values alright!

  • I have yet to meet an online poster who identifies as a Christian with morals. Met a ton of liars, hypocrites, bigots and malicious people. But virtually none who understood the meaning of morals. Trump is a great fit for Christians. They have the candidate they deserve.

  • …… are a bold face liar…….if you find tRUMP palatable, you’ll obviously have a bang-up time with the Anti-Christ upon his arrival…………..

  • Well, if you’re going to pray for us, I know that I will sleep easy tonight. Prayer always works. That’s why Hurricane Matthew spared florida. And Haiti.

  • I’m surprised, shocked really, to see that mainline Protestants are evenly divided between Sec. Clinton and the orange one. On the other hand, it looks like the Unaffiliated have a stronger moral compass than the white evangelicals. Hmmm.

  • Probably Kellyanne Conway. Kate McKinnon did a whole filmed sketch on her on SNL last weekend.

    “This tweet is actually taken out of context. Of course Mr. Trump thinks that Mexicans can read, and actually what he wants them to read the most is Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails,” ”

    “Of course Trump really didn’t say black people don’t have an extra toe”

    and so on.

  • Dan, there is nothing moral by any definition about forcing sexual attention and contact on another. Do you agree?

  • Read the devastating account of Natasha Stoynoff and then explain to me how any Christian can vote for this man. Don’t tell me that Hillary will “ruin” the world for Christians. She may be bad, but he is evil incarnate. You can’t hand the presidency to the least Christ-like candidate imaginable. I know some of the nut jobs that visit this site have never stepped inside a church in their lives, but if you want to understand what evil and wickedness are, read the account by Natasha Stoynoff.

  • Trump’s toolbox (take two, they’re free):
    Intolerance, Absolutism
    Hysteria, Unrestraint
    Paranoia, Delusion
    Grandiosity, Megalomania
    Projection, Distraction
    Denial, Hypocrisy

    Right now, his Projection proclivities bother me the most:
    “Crooked Hillary”;
    “In a certain way, evil”;
    “…there has never been so many lies, so much deception…”;
    “She has to go to jail”;
    “A Hillary presidency means the destruction of America”;
    and, of most immediate concern:
    “…that election is going to be rigged.”

  • I wonder about the sniffing during debates, when tRump is out of his element, but not during rallies where he gets high on adoration.

    Viagra isn’t the drug that comes to mind.

  • This is nonsense.

    What you will be missing is religious privilege, where Christians are exempt from the rules that everyone else must follow.

    True freedom and equality are high on liberal priorities. You will be free to practice your religion. You simply will no longer get to use government authority to make others practice your religion.

    Oh the horrors.

  • Floyd, Guess who it was that was the Secretary of State who fought
    off and defeated a concerted effort by the 57 member
    Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to reverse a pending vote at
    the United Nations Assembly that would have caved to the demands of the
    OIC to amend Articles 18 (religious freedom clause) and 19
    (free speech clause) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to
    include blasphemy or anti-defamation law language. This would have
    legally prevented any evangelism in any nation in the world by those
    nations not wanting it. Surprise – it was Hillary.

    I am thinking your religious freedom is safe.

  • I’ve scanned this from top to bottom, and there is nothing to be salvaged from this train wreck of a thread. What is becoming more and more common on this site is posted commentary that resembles nothing so much as verbal warfare. There is little common courtesy, but plenty of virulent animosity. There are a handful of souls who endeavor to be straightforward while judicious in their remarks, yet they have become quite scarce. To some degree this is a function of the relative distance and anonymity such sites afford. Presumably we would not be so vicious face to face. The ugliest human characteristic that makes its presence known here is the sin of Pride.

  • There is a quiet racism and not so quiet sexism that is pervasive through white evangelicalism. It is not spoken aloud as it once was. I heard a retired pastor point to scripture in 1980 giving proof that white people were to rule the earth. He would further say the black christian people don’t like to hear this, but look at scripture. The verses were vague in reference to any race and were written to Semites not Northern Europeans. This kind of proof texting is gone, but the culture remains as an unspoken understanding for now.

    I have a strong hope that the people i once called my brothers and sisters will learn something from this election. I wish them no harm, but at some point they lost heir way.

  • Trump is a flawed candidate. No getting around that. He has done and said immoral things.
    Now that is out the way, what is the other alternative. If you look past him to the other candidate behind him, apply that same scrutiny at Hillary. She is flawed too and by no lesser degree.
    Please listen to this and compare it to Trump’s immorality.

    Now what we are left with is two Flawed candidates. Trump wants to keep religious freedoms and so does his Vice Presidential running partner, Mike Pence.
    Can Hillary and her campaign say the same?
    Do look at what was said of NOT JUST Catholics but Evangelicals.

    But elections are not just one issue contests. Who’s feet do you think you could hold to the fire if they did not follow through with the promises they made for your vote?

    Please look at this in its entirety. Trump IS a flawed candidate. You are right to be angry with him and revolted by some of the things he has said and done but the alternative before you is not an enviable one nor one that you ought to have had. Trump will get whatever is coming to him good or ill when he his mortal life is at an end and so will Hillary. A want to punish him now and reward her may not be what is best for you, your family and your community.

  • I still cannot fathom the need for evangelicals to vote for Trump. This man is is completely antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. But the evangelicals haven’t seen through him as yet. Do they actually think that Hillary Clinton is anti-Christian, anti – Bible and anti- American values? Please shake off your narrow, bigoted perspective on Clinton and look at the picture with clear glasses and not with ones colored by religion.

  • Of course they see him for who he is. How could they not?

    They don’t care about that. What they care about is power, money, and dominion.

  • He won because of the Evangelical support and people’s ability to see past the bias rhetoric of the media. He won because Latinos gave him more support than Romney. He won because the working class related to him and not to Hillary. He won because Hillary is too dishonest. People took his words about other cultures as disparaging but they weren’t. There are violent criminal aliens and terrorist sneaking in unvetted that must be addressed. He has an economic plan that will keep jobs in this country. Seriously, do Democrats believe anyone struggling with Obamacare premiums, finding a job, putting food on the table, cares about what bathroom someone “should” be able to use or how politically correct they should be? Dems incriminate the police force before knowing the facts. This is not even touching on the SCOTUS yet. So out of touch with the real world. Besides, if this is about Christians, what would Jesus want more do you think? To support a party (candidates come and go) that aligns itself more with the Christian values or the party that demands you tolerate their values falling away from the Biblical teachings? Don’t give me your ideological argument with pseudo-intellectual underpinnings, give me an economically substantive argument with moral values backing it.