White evangelical support for Trump drops 9 points; largest of any surveyed religious group

Evangelical supporters of Donald Trump praying at a rally in Florida in this undated photo.
Evangelical supporters of Donald Trump praying at a rally in Florida in this undated photo. | (Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

White evangelical Protestant support for President Donald Trump has declined by 9 points since 2017, the largest of any surveyed racial religious demographic, while nonwhite Catholics have doubled their support for the president.

In February 2017, white evangelicals gave President Trump a 78 percent approval rating. However, by last month, this had decreased to 69 percent, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center of multiple surveys that was published Monday.

This 9 percent decline represents the largest drop in support of any of the religious groups that Pew surveyed for their report, with the second largest being among white Catholics, which went from 52 percent in 2017 to 44 percent in 2019.

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Meanwhile, while overall Catholic support for the president remained at 36 percent during the same time period, nonwhite Catholic approval doubled from 13 percent in February 2017 to 26 percent in February 2019.

Pew noted in its analysis that while Trump has long had strong support among self-identified evangelicals, this support has not been without some reservation.

“An August 2018 survey found that roughly half of white evangelicals do not think that Trump has set a high moral standard for the presidency since taking office,” explained Pew.

“Some prominent evangelical leaders, such as Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, have expressed ambivalence about Trump and concern about some of his policies. Others, such as Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries, openly oppose the president.”

Pew also found that the lowest levels of support for Trump came from religiously unaffiliated Americans, who gave the president a 24 percent approval in February 2017 and 20 percent approval in February 2019.

“Religiously unaffiliated Americans consistently express among the lowest levels of approval of Trump’s performance, ranging from 17% to 27% across the polls the Center has conducted since the president assumed office,” added Pew.

The Pew analysis comes amid recent findings indicating that a plurality of white evangelicals disapproved of Trump signing Bibles while visiting victims of the tornadoes in Alabama.

According to a Morning Consult poll conducted last week whose findings were reported on Monday, 45 percent of white evangelical respondents said that it was “inappropriate” for the president to sign the Bibles, versus 35 percent who said it was “appropriate.”

Based upon a survey conducted Mar.12-15 with a sample space of 2,201 adults and a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent, the Morning Consult survey also found that 65 percent of all Christian respondents found it “inappropriate,” while 24 percent considered it “appropriate.”  

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