Trump improves in new WORLD survey
Campaign 2016 | Evangelical insiders are split over support of the Republican presidential nominee
by J.C. Derrick
Posted 8/25/16, 09:15 am
WASHINGTON—Only 22 percent of respondents in WORLD’s evangelical insiders survey said they backed Donald Trump in the days after he locked up the Republican nomination for president in May—but 48 percent said they would consider him if he vowed to nominate a pro-life Supreme Court justice.
It looks like they meant it.
Now that Trump has released a pro-life Supreme Court short list, 44 percent of respondents in WORLD’s latest survey say they plan to vote for the billionaire businessman in November. The showing is by far Trump’s best out of 11 surveys, although 48 percent say they still plan to write in a name or not vote at all.
The findings are part of a regular survey of 103 evangelical leaders and influencers that WORLD began in July 2015. Seventy-three participated this month. The results are not scientific or representative of all evangelicals but provide a glimpse into how some are leaning in the 2016 presidential race.
Participant Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said releasing a strong Supreme Court list is the best move Trump has made to date.
“It makes a ginormous difference,” said Rodriguez, who has advised the Trump campaign but does not plan to endorse a candidate. “If Donald Trump wins, he would have to look back and credit that day for mobilizing evangelicals. That’s what changed the tide in many evangelical hearts.”
Although the new survey brings improvement for Trump, it also reveals he’s on shaky ground with many of his influential evangelical supporters. Seventy-four percent of those who said they would vote for him indicated he could easily or possibly lose their support, while almost 84 percent of those who say they’re not voting for Trump said he has no chance to earn their vote.
Nearly 33 percent indicated Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate made them more likely to vote for the real estate mogul. In May, some 39 percent of respondents said the vice presidential pick could sway their vote, but no one named Pence as their first choice.
Survey participant Janet Parshall attributed Trump’s improvement to the increasingly stark choice between him and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Voters are starting to recognize strong leadership as a mandate for this country at this time,” said Parshall, an author and nationally syndicated radio host. “Hillary Clinton’s tattered record of ‘pay for play’ [foreign policy] and missing emails continues to call into account her judgment to lead.”
Allegations that Clinton used her tenure as secretary of state to grant special favors to Clinton Foundations donors have proliferated in recent weeks, but she too received increased support from survey participants this month: 7 percent, up from 1 percent in May. And 75 percent of respondents predicted Clinton would win the presidency
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a leading Trump critic who is not running for president, received the most votes (8 percent) among the 40 percent of survey participants who plan to write in a name. Seven percent plan to write in Evan McMullin, a former Capitol Hill staffer who launched an independent presidential bid this month.
“I have great respect for those that are willing to vote according to their conscience,” Rodriguez said. “This is the most difficult election, arguably, in American history.”
Parshall believes Trump holdouts have a lack of knowledge about the American political system.
“Write-in votes may make the voter feel good on Election Day, but I strongly suspect those people will have voter’s remorse when they start seeing some of the most horrifically liberal justices sitting on the high court, impacting the future of both their children and their grandchildren,” she said. “These are the days that require us to think critically as well as biblically.”
The top election year issues of concern remained mostly unchanged from recent surveys. Roughly 60 percent of respondents named abortion, domestic religious liberty, and Supreme Court nominations as the biggest drivers behind their votes. A combined 38 percent selected national security/terrorism and foreign policy.
WORLD’s survey of evangelical leaders and insiders
The complete results from the Aug. 25 survey.
1. Who will you vote for on Nov. 8?
Donald Trump (R), 43.8%, 32
Write-in candidate (no one specified), 19.2%, 14
I will not vote, 8.2%, 6
Ben Sasse,* 8.2%, 6
Hillary Clinton (D), 6.9%, 5
Evan McMullin,* 6.9%, 5
Darrell Castle,* 1.4%, 1
Michael Farris,* 1.4%, 1
Gary Johnson (L), 1.4%, 1
Mike Maturen,* 1.4%, 1
Marco Rubio,* 1.4%, 1
Jill Stein (G), 0.0%, 0
Answered: 73, Skipped: 0
2. If you plan to vote for Donald Trump, is there anything he could do to lose your vote?
Yes, he could easily lose my vote, 33.3%, 13
Yes, but it’s unlikely, 41.0%, 16
No, I’m fully committed to vote for him, 25.6%, 10
Answered: 39, Skipped: 34
3. If you do not plan to vote for Donald Trump, is there anything he could do to earn your vote?
Yes, 16.3%, 7
No, 83.7%, 36
Answered: 43, Skipped: 30
4. Did it make you more likely to vote for Trump when he named Mike Pence as his running mate?
Yes, I’m now voting for Trump, 17.1%, 12
Yes, but I’m still on the fence, 15.7%, 11
No, I already planned to vote for Trump, 21.4%, 15
No, I am “Never Trump,” 45.7%, 32
Answered: 70, Skipped: 3
5. What are the top three issues you will consider when selecting a candidate?
Abortion, 61.1%, 44
Religious freedom (domestic), 59.7%, 43
Supreme Court nominations, 58.3%, 42
National security/terrorism, 25.0%, 18
Federal debt/deficit, 16.7%, 12
Economy/jobs, 13.9%, 10
Foreign policy, 12.5%, 9
Marriage and family issues, 9.7%, 7
Immigration, 8.3%, 6
Candidate civility, 5.6%, 4
Poverty, 5.6%, 4
Race relations, 5.6%, 4
Education, 2.8%, 2
Religious freedom (international), 2.8%, 2
Taxes, 1.4%, 1
Crime, 0.0%, 0
Environment/pollution, 0.0%, 0
Healthcare/Affordable Care Act, 0.0%, 0
Answered: 72, Skipped: 1
6. Who do you believe will win the presidency?
Hillary Clinton (D), 74.7%, 53
Donald Trump (R), 25.4%, 18
Gary Johnson (L), 0.0%, 0
Jill Stein (G), 0.0%, 0
Answered: 71, Skipped: 2
J.C. is a former reporter and editor for WORLD.