If Donald Trump wants to win re-election and GOP voter suppression doesn’t succeed as a tactic, then he’s going to need to win the same battleground states as he did in 2016.
That isn’t looking great for him right now in large part because his strongest constituency — white evangelicals — are slowly walking away from his side in the states where he’ll need them the most.
According to a recent survey from polling group PRRI, support for Trump from white Christians in battleground states dropped considerably over the past month, presumably because of his disastrous handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The Christian Post explains more:
The survey found that since March, the percentage of white Christians in presidential battleground states who say they hold a mostly or very favorable view of the president has dropped from 75% to 48%.
According to PRRI, the decline puts the president’s favorability among White Christians in those states “more in line” with the demographic’s view of him recorded in 2019 (55%).
“Trump benefited from a brief ‘rally around the flag’ effect as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread in the U.S. But over the last four weeks — as the total number of reported U.S. cases of the coronavirus increased exponentially from around 33,000 cases to more than 900,000 cases — this boost has rapidly dissipated,” a PRRI analysis of the new data reads.
The survey also revealed, not surprisingly, that white Christians who live in rural areas (which are less impacted by the virus) had a more favorable opinion of Trump — 63% for them compared to 50% of white Christians who can see the damage he’s doing first-hand.
Those numbers are promising if you want to see Trump lose, but they’re also extremely high when compared to other groups. Trump infamously said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any supporters. By trivializing the severity of COVID-19, as many white Christians still seem to be doing, you could argue we’re at that point.
To recap: They didn’t care when Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists.” They didn’t care about the rape allegation against him or the multiple allegations of sexual abuse. They didn’t care about the refugee children stolen from their parents, who later died or were “lost” by the authorities charged with their care.
But a few of those white evangelicals see that Trump is getting in the way of their health, their businesses, their livelihood, and so now they’re finally stepping away. Maybe. It’s early. Who knows where they will be as the election nears.
Still, if Trump doesn’t have their overwhelming support, there’s not much of a legal path to victory. Which means he’ll continue pandering to his Christian base to reassure them the sky will fall unless they let go of their supposed values and keep supporting him.
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