Evangelical Christian voters helped to propel Republican Donald Trump to a surprise victory in the presidential election on Tuesday.
Christianity Today reports four in five white evangelical Protestants voted for Trump on Tuesday “at their highest margin since 2004.”
Evangelicals strongly identify as pro-life, and the two top party candidates’ positions on abortion appears to have had a strong sway on evangelicals’ votes. According to Pew Research, 75 percent of white evangelical Protestants believe that having an abortion is morally wrong. So it makes sense that Democrat Hillary Clinton’s extreme pro-abortion position did not sit well with this large block of voters.
According to the Washington Post:
Exit polls show white evangelical voters voted in high numbers for Donald Trump, 81-16 percent, according to exit poll results. That’s the most they have voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004, when they overwhelmingly chose President George W. Bush by a margin of 78-21 percent. …
White evangelicals are the religious group that most identifies with the Republican Party, and 76 percent of them say they are or lean Republican, according to a 2014 survey. As a group, white evangelicals make up one-fifth of all registered voters and about one-third of all voters who identify with or lean toward the GOP.
An ABC/Washington Post poll in October found that while 55 percent of the public overall held an unfavorable opinion of Clinton, displeasure grew to 70 percent among white evangelicals.
A CNN exit poll of voters based on religious affiliation found that white evangelicals and Mormons backed Trump in large numbers on Tuesday. According to the poll, 81 percent of white evangelicals and 61 percent of Mormons voted for Trump.
Christianity Today reports Clinton’s campaign largely neglected evangelical voters, while Trump spent a lot of time reaching out to the voting block.
“I have many friends and loved ones who made the decision to cast a mournful vote for the GOP nominee,” said Denny Burk, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Boyce College. “They have no illusions about what the GOP nominee is… I disagree with their decision, but I understand and respect them.”
Among evangelicals, some speculated that Trump’s shaky background on pro-life issues, awkward articulation of his personal faith, and reputation around women would turn away conservative Christians. But party loyalty outweighed those concerns.
A number of pro-lifers have been concerned about the sincerity of Trump’s pro-life position. He used to identify as pro-choice on abortion, and has complimented the abortion giant Planned Parenthood. In the past, he also made some crude statements about women that drew a lot of criticism.
However, Trump gained the support of some wavering pro-life and Christian leaders after choosing his vice president, Mike Pence, who has a strong pro-life record. Others were encouraged by Trump’s list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees and his promise to appoint “pro-life” justices to the high court.
In contrast, Clinton took an extreme stance on abortion, promising to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who would uphold Roe v. Wade and abortion on demand for years to come. Clinton also said she would work to repeal the Hyde Amendment and force taxpayers to fund abortions – a position that did not sit well, even with many Democrats. And during the last presidential debate, Clinton openly defended partial-birth and late-term abortions, a position that few Americans share.