Trump's White Christian Support Has Slipped, Poll Indicates
White Christian support for President Donald Trump has declined since August, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center.
Overall, Trump is still the preferred choice for the president among white Christian voters. The majority of white evangelicals, white Catholics, and white non-evangelical Protestants tell Pew that they tend to vote for him. But with white Christians being an important part of the electorate - they make up about 44% of registered voters - the slightest drop in support in some key swing states could spell trouble for Trump.
The decline was particularly evident among white Catholics, according to data released on Tuesday. In late July and early August, Trump had a 19 percentage point lead over Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is Catholic (59% to 40%). That lead shrunk to just 8 points in Pew's latest poll, conducted from September 30 through October 5, nationwide of 10,543 registered voters.
White non-evangelical Protestant support for Trump fell from 59% in the summer to 53% in the fall.
The president's most trusted supporters - white evangelical Protestants - are still firmly in his camp. 78% said they wanted to vote for Trump next month. But even in this group, a few percentage points had been saved since the summer when 83% said they would vote for Trump.
President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on Tuesday. About 78% of white evangelicals told Pew they would vote to re-elect the president. (Photo: Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
There is significant overlap between white Christian voters and the Republican Party. Studies have shown that all three white Christian groups have been identified more often as Republicans in recent years. In the fall poll, Pew researchers found that the slight decrease in support for white Christians did not match a statistically significant increase in support for Biden.
The researchers found that race correlated strongly with voting preferences during the 2016 presidential election. These preferences persisted when Christian voters were divided into religious groups, with the majority of white evangelicals, white Catholics, and white non-evangelicals voting for Trump and the majority of black Protestants and Latino Catholics voting for their democratic rival, the former Secretary of State, left Hillary Clinton.
The racial differences in voting preferences within Christian groups appear to remain constant in 2020. Within the group polled by Pew during the fall poll, around 90% of black Protestants and 67% of Latino Catholics said Biden was their preferred candidate.
Over the past four years, white Christians, especially evangelicals, have distinguished themselves from other American religious groups because they have strongly supported Trump and his policies. They have backed his heavily Muslim travel bans, his plans to expand the wall along the US-Mexico border, and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic - often at much higher rates than other American religious groups.
Pew's survey was conducted during a turbulent time in the campaign. Trump announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 on October 2, around the middle of the data collection period. With the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Senate acting swiftly to replace the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a conservative Supreme Court justice - a key priority for many white Conservative Christians - there is still time for change within this religious population .
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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