Government & Politics Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion Politics

Trump’s evangelical support is slipping

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points to Liberty University President Jerry Falwall, Jr. after speaking in Lynchburg, Virginia, on January 18, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

In March, evangelicals approved of the job Donald Trump was doing by a margin of two to one, 63 percent to 32 percent, according to a Politico/Daily Caller survey. Five months later, the same surveyors find that the margin has shrunk by more than half, to 56-42.

It’s important to note that Politico/Daily Caller does not separate out white evangelicals, so it’s probable that a disproportionate portion of this slippage comes from Latino evangelicals. (African-Americans don’t tend to identify themselves as evangelicals.)

Nevertheless, there’s no question that Trump’s key religious base of support has shrunk.

However, the major religious shift in his approval ratings has occurred among non-evangelical Christians, Protestant and Catholic. In March, they approved of Trump’s performance 58 percent to 40 percent. Now, they disapprove of it 56 percent to 40 percent.

That 34-point swing is not only twice the size of the decline in evangelical support but also much larger than the shift against Trump among non-Christians (mostly Nones), who went from disapproving of his performance 41 percent to 53 percent in March to 31-62 in August.

It’s non-evangelical Christians who led Trump’s 24-point aggregate reversal of fortune in Politico/Daily Caller polling, from 52-43 thumbs up to 55-40 thumbs down. Thus far, the President has paid zero attention to this crucial swing religious demographic.

Not a good idea.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

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