A new poll broke down the details of the "religious dynamics" of the 2016 presidential campaign. The survey showed strong polarization along religious lines but overall dissatisfaction with both candidates.
A majority of white evangelicals polled plan on voting for Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump in the upcoming election.
According to CNN, Trump has faced skepticism about his religious convictions throughout the campaign. Despite hesitation among evangelical leaders, however, Trump has garnered strong support among this crucial Republican voting bloc, which accounts for around one-fifth of all registered voters.
The survey shows stronger support among white evangelicals than Republican candidate Mitt Romney garnered at this time in his campaign four years ago. Pew Research reports that 78 percent of white evangelical Protestants say they plan on voting for Trump, compared to Romney’s 73 percent in June of 2012.
The July analysis comes several weeks after Trump's highly-publicized meeting with more than 1,000 Christian leaders. NPR reports that Trump’s rhetoric at the event focused mainly on evangelical’s concerns about religious liberty and the place of Christianity in American life.
“Trump is not a true believer in any sense… but he’s speaking to them,” J. Tobin Grant, a political science professor at Southern Illinois University, told The New York Times. “He’s actively courting them, and that’s what the activists want. They want to have a seat at the table, and they felt they didn’t have that with Romney.”
However, the data from this study suggests that evangelical support for Trump may have more to do with his opponent than Trump himself. More than half of evangelical probable Trump voters say that their vote is mainly a vote against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, rather than an affirmative vote for Trump.
More than half of white evangelical voters say they are dissatisfied with their options in this election, and 42 percent say that neither major candidate would make a good president. According to Pew, dissatisfaction with the choice of candidates is at its lowest point in more than two decades.
The survey also shows a decrease in the number of voters who feel that a candidate’s religious convictions are important when compared to a decade ago. A number of data points showed an overall decline in the belief that religion is a central element in American politics and society.