March 6, 2016


Why Evangelicals Support Trump (Steve Mitchell, March 06, 2016, Real Clear Politics)

The results were fascinating. First, we found out that one of the major religious/political figures of the time was very unpopular with evangelicals. In fact, for every evangelical who had a favorable opinion of him, two had an unfavorable opinion. The credibility of the survey was validated when we shared this information with one of the major presidential campaigns and this leader "voluntarily" stepped down as the spokesperson for the Christian right.

Second, we found out that abortion was not the prime motivator for evangelical Christians. In fact, of the 400 people we interviewed, about one-third were pro-choice, something we all found surprising -- and probably the reason the results of this study were never released to the public.

Third, we found out what did draw this group toward politics: strong, decisive leaders, not issues. They got involved in politics for the same reason they got involved with their church -- because they were looking for someone to help "show them the way." Evangelicals were drawn into politics by messianic leaders.

When you look at the presidential candidates who have won a majority of evangelicals, they have all been strong figures in their own way, some more religious than others. Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and both Bushes all won a majority of these voters.

Although Carter was very religious, some might say that Bill Clinton's lifestyle was not always Christian. But, when Clinton spoke of a special "covenant" with voters, secularists didn't understand the term but Christians did, and they voted for him.

And, finally, we were able to determine who these voters were. They tended to be less educated with lower incomes, the same groups that were the earliest supporters of Trump 30 years after we did our research.

Donald Trump is precisely the type of candidate that would have drawn evangelical Christian voters in 1987 when we conducted our poll, and I believe that he is precisely the type of candidate that is drawing them in today. Although certainly not Christ-like, Trump is perceived to be strong and bold; a leader that will help evangelicals navigate a world they believe is too often adrift and too different from what they want.

Posted by at March 6, 2016 8:49 AM