Trump's Approval Is Slipping Among White Evangelicals, A Key Element Of His Base
President Donald Trump needs full support from white evangelicals if he hopes to win reelection in November, but according to The New York Times, this key element of his base shows signs of cracking.
Over the past few weeks, religious conservatives reportedly have expressed concern to both the White House and the Trump campaign over the president’s political standing heading into the 2020 election.
Evangelicals have become “Unnerved by his slipping poll numbers and his failure to take command of the moral and public health crises straining the country,” The Times wrote.
Those who usually defend Trump’s indiscretions — bragging about grabbing women by the genitals, paying off porn stars, swearing at the National Prayer breakfast — are becoming less unified in their defense.
The Times noted that Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson “scolded the president” for his aggressive stance against protesters in light of the murder of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis. He said, “You just don’t do that Mr. President. We’re one race. And we need to love each other.”
A number of polls have shown Trump slipping among white evangelicals and white Catholics, which The Times noted is “a shift that would imperil Mr. Trump’s re-election if he is not able to reverse it.”
Public Religion Research Institute polling found that Trump’s nearly 80 percent approval rating among white evangelicals in March had dropped to 62 percent by the end of May.
The same poll found that the president’s approval fell 27 points since March among white Catholics.
Robert P. Jones, PRRI’s chief executive, observed: “He had an opportunity in March when people were looking to him. And then within four weeks he squandered it.”
However, The Times noted that polling numbers are not necessarily indicative of how the election will play out: “In the fall of 2016, his approval rating with white evangelicals was only 61 percent. He went on to win 81 percent of them in November.”
As people whose cultural and political priorities have been extremely well served by the Trump administration, many religious conservatives long ago resigned themselves to his flaws — as a president, a husband and a professed Christian. Some have come to see him as something of a divine instrument, sent by God to advance their cause.
And many prominent white evangelicals continue to support and defend the president no matter what he says or does, like Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, and Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition — neither of whom took issue with Trump’s photo op last week holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, despite the forcible clearing of protesters to make the event possible.
The Times noted that a 2019 poll from PRRI found that among white evangelical Trump supporters, 31 percent said there was nothing the president could do to lose their support.