We know white evangelicals overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020 — roughly 80% of them each time. How could they support someone whose constant actions violate all the values those Christians supposedly stand for? Many of them would tell you they’re not thrilled by Trump himself; they voted for him because they opposed abortion rights, or wanted judges, or wanted lip service about the (fake) persecution they face, and they saw Trump as something of a necessary evil to achieve their political goals.
People like Robert Jeffress have certainly rationalized away Trump’s corruption and bigotry and ignorance and language using that excuse, continuing to praise him for being “pro-life” and reshaping the courts despite all the death and destruction he’s created in his wake.
But Eastern Illinois University’s Ryan P. Burge just ran a new analysis of data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) to look at who Trump’s strongest supporters are. Not the ones who voted for him reluctantly for other reasons, but the ones who genuinely support him.
In short, he looked at the respondents who defined Trump as “very conservative,” defined themselves as “very conservative,” and “strongly approved” of his presidency. These are the die-hards. And when you look at the 639 die-hards, the breakdown by religion is incredible:
Evangelical Christians make up half of Trump’s base. Another 30% are Christians of a different flavor. No wonder so many of his MAGA cult rallies look like religious revivals.
Burge also found that about half of Trump’s die-hard supporters attend church at least once a week. It’s where they’re being radicalized — or, at the very least, where they’re not learning anything useful that could protect them from radicalization. The same group is also less formally educated than the general public — about half have a high school diploma at best.
But if you think they’re driven by economic problems, think again:
What’s worth pointing out though, is that from a financial standpoint, Trump’s most loyal fans are just as likely to make $50,000 per year as the rest of the United States population (45.7% vs 44.5%). Thus, this doesn’t seem to be driven primarily by economic insecurity.
Let’s be blunt here: If these numbers reflected Muslims supporting an extremist candidate, it would be the subject of countless hours of coverage in right-wing media and there would be political action on it. But because we’re talking about extremist evangelicals, it’ll get little or no coverage, much less action.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)