4 myths about white evangelical voters

Myth 3: “Real evangelicals” are not supportive of Trump

“You especially hear this from more moderate, left-leaning evangelicals themselves — you all know the names — who said that ‘the real evangelicals, the ones who are really in the pews and the ones who are really walking the walk religiously, they are not so supportive of Trump,’” Cooperman told the journalists. “I am looking at the data, and I can’t find that to be the case.”

Speaking as a representative of a nonpartisan polling organization, Coopermanassured his listeners that he is not “morally opposed to that being the case” but just hasn’t seen data that indicates it is true.

He cited aggregated Pew data from 2017 and 2018 on Trump’s approval ratings that broke down white evangelicals into groups of evangelicals who attend church weekly and those who are less frequent church attendees.

“The so-called ‘real evangelicals’ — the people who are actually in the pews — their approval rates for Donald Trump are just as high as among the self-identified evangelicals who aren’t in church or aren’t there as often,” Cooperman stated. 

The data shows that while 73 percent of churchgoing white evangelicals approved of the way Trump is handling his job in the months leading up to the midterm elections, 68 percent of white evangelicals who don't attend church weekly said the same thing. 

Additionally, Cooperman added, Republican identification among both white evangelical weekly attendees and less-than-weekly attendees has increased over the last decade. 

Myth 4: White evangelicals are abandoning the ‘evangelical’ label

“I can find people who will tell me that. But I don’t see it in the [national] data,” Cooperman said.

He noted that while it is “absolutely true” that the share of U.S. adults who identify as white evangelicals has been declining, this is because the share of all U.S. adults who are white, as well as the share of whites who are Christian, has been going down.

Among Christians who are white, the percentage who self-identify as evangelical is stable, he said.

“In other words, among white Christians, evangelical identity does not appear to be dwindling,” he explained.

Pew data shows that while the percentage of whites who identify as Christian dropped from 77 percent to 67 percent from 2009 to 2018, the share of all white Christians who identified as evangelical was 37 percent in 2009 and 39 percent in 2018.

The Faith Angle Forum was founded in 1999 under founding director Michael Cromartie, the former vice president of the Ethics & Public Policy Center, as an opportunity to "strengthen reporting and commentary on how religious believers, religious convictions, and religiously grounded moral arguments affect American politics and public life." Cromartie passed away last August from cancer. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmithFollow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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