According to a newly released Pew Research Center report, evangelical Christian voters are “rallying strongly in favor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The report indicates that the formerly expressed wariness of Trump by evangelical Christian leaders has waned. In fact, it notes that during the same time period of 2012, these same leaders are more enthusiastic about Trump than they were for Romney.
In 2012, Pew reports that:
“nearly three-quarters of white evangelical Protestant registered voters said they planned to vote for Romney, including one-quarter who ‘strongly”\’ supported him. Now, fully 78 percent of white evangelical voters say they would vote for Trump if the election were held today, including about a third who ‘strongly’ back his campaign.”
The organization also notes that the voters who self-identify as “religiously unaffiliated” (atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”) expressed solid support for Hillary Clinton. And their support is equivalent to the support they expressed in 2012 toward Barack Obama. Pew reports that of those polled, and if the election was held today, two-thirds of the religiously unaffiliated registered voters claim they would vote for Clinton. (Roughly the same number who said they would vote for Obama in 2012 around the same time.)
Interestingly, the “Religious ‘nones'” are less enthusiastic about Clinton (26% strong support) than they were of Obama in June 2012 (37% strong support). Instead, this group represents the strongest support for Bernie Sanders. And, since his recently public statement in favor of Clinton, Pew Reports that of the “nones” Sanders supporters, nearly nine-in-ten (87%) answered that they prefer Clinton over Trump.
Pew notes that of the white evangelical Republicans who supported candidates other than Trump, they remain “much less strongly supportive” of Trump than other evangelical Republicans. But, at a minimum, nine-in-ten of all Republican evangelicals affirmed that they would vote for Trump over Clinton.
By category of skin color and ethnicity, Black Protestants still support Hillary Clinton, as do Roman Catholics. And, Hispanic Catholics “overwhelmingly favor Clinton over Trump.”
Among the White Mainline Protestants, half (50%) prefer Trump; roughly four-in-ten (39%) support Clinton.
Another interesting finding uncovered by the survey is that less people care about or think a president having “firm religious convictions” is important. Only 62 percent of American adults state it is important for the president to hold “strong religious beliefs.” In 2012, this number was 67 percent; in 2008, 72 percent. This reflects a 10 percent drop over a period of eight years.
This survey was conducted during June 15-26, 2016, and was included in the previously released July 7 report “2016 Campaign: Strong Interest, Widespread Dissatisfaction.”