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

*Write-in candidate

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. Derrick

J.C. is a former reporter and editor for WORLD.

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  •  austinbeartux's picture
    Posted: Thu, 08/25/2016 01:05 pm

    I'm naturally an optimistic person, but we Christians need to realize something.  Our nation is in a horrible state.  Morally, we're no better than Sodom and Gomorrah.  Financially, we're massively in debt.  We're murdering millions of babies every year.  And we have two morally degenerate lunatics who are fighting to be our leader.

    If we vote for the lesser of two evils, we still get evil.  The only thing that will save America is if God performs a miracle.  Don't let your angst fall on the candidates.  It was the people, the electorate, who voted for these clowns.  The body of the USA has stage 4 cancer, advanced AIDS, heart disease with all the arteries blocked, and is 99 years old.  We need to start planning our nation's funeral.  God save us.

    Darrell Castle 2016.

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Thu, 08/25/2016 01:59 pm

    Did Trump say, "I will only nominate judges from this short list?"

  • Graced
    Posted: Thu, 08/25/2016 02:01 pm

    I still struggle to understand how the people voting for Trump because of his nominee list can trust him with those nominees or similar? He was supporting Hillary only 8 years ago and has a loooong record of lying and changing opinions to go with what increases popularity. 

  • MamaC
    Posted: Thu, 08/25/2016 05:36 pm

    If only the first two words of the headline could stand by themselves instead of merely being an indicator of his poll numbers rising. Sadly even his so-called improvements (SC short list, VP choice, etc.) leave me skeptical. It's his essential character that I don't trust; his "improvements" are only more of the same tell-em-what-they-want-as-long-as-it-means-more-votes.

  • Kimon Nicolaides III's picture
    Kimon Nicolaides III
    Posted: Sat, 08/27/2016 02:14 am

    I agree Trump is really a big sinner. I also think anyone who does not get out and vote for him this November is just about as likely to land up in Hell on judgment day as Hillary  Clinton.

    Why? Simply because God has given you a brain and he expects you to use it as a steward over his creation. 

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Wed, 08/31/2016 08:50 pm

    @Kimon Nicolaides III:  Your comment was over the line.  Next time I see a comment like that from you, I will report it.  This is not a forum for bullies.

  • Sue Wilson
    Posted: Fri, 08/26/2016 04:23 pm

    I agree with Graced: how can anyone trust a morally bankrupt person who has a record of breaking promises? With his constantly changing positions there is zero guarantee that he will stick to his supposed list of Supreme Court nominees. I do not like Mrs. Clinton's politics, but election means choosing. It would be a violation of God's command to vote for "evil" even if it is the supposed lesser. I will follow God's Word on this and leave the results to HIm.

  •  Noemi's picture
    Posted: Fri, 08/26/2016 09:19 pm

    Trump is not perfect, but then neither are we!  He has not been a politician, so doesn't mince words.  Politicians usually learn to say what we want to hear, but he doesn't, he says what he feels and thinks.  From what I understand from his meeting with evangelical leaders, he is trying to listen and learn.  Everytime I start zeroing in on his shortcomings and his past deeds, I remember mine and thank God that with Him nothing is impossible, just as he has changed my heart, He can change his. Pray for him that God will draw him to Him. I cannot in good conscience not vote because it would probably mean the existing policies would continue unopposed.  I want my Lord to see me take a stand to stop killing our babies, to respect that he created men and women, to be able to see Christian businesses practice their faith in God without threats for their beliefs, to not have children who are already confused encouraged to think they should be a different sex, and to acknowledge that this country did have founding fathers who looked to Him for guidance.  Our nation is in trouble, if we humble ourselves, repent, seek God's grace and trust in Him, we can change the direction we are heading.  Remember He did tell us to pray for our  leaders, for He placed them where they are!  

  • Lizzy's picture
    Posted: Sat, 08/27/2016 06:54 pm


    While most Christians would agree with your list of what you would like to see happen, what makes you think Trump is more likely than Hillary to care about any of those things?  And what makes you think that praying for Trump is somehow more moral and guaranteed effective than praying for Hillary?  World had an excellent article a few days ago regarding the religious roots of both of the candidates which is well worth a read because it explains a lot of their current behavior.  Neither candidate at this point is saying anything that would lead a conservative Christian to believe that either Trump or Hillary is in any way a practicing Christian.  I see nothing in Scripture that tells me I am duty bound to vote for an amoral, lying candidate, nor do I see anything in Scripture that tells me I have to vote Republican when there are other choices.  History shows that sometimes parties die and are replaced - it may be time for a new party to rise from the ashes of what will be left of the GOP after Trump finishes with it.  And regarding the belief that God has placed our leaders over us - at this point both Clinton and Trump are just nominees and it is up to them to win my vote, I don't owe it to either one.  Yes, most likely one or the other will be the next president unless God miraculously spares us, but at this point I still choose to pray for the miracle.

    BTW, the reports I have seen of Trump's meeting with various religious leaders are more mixed than what you state.  And Dobson has had to walk back his assertion that Trump is a professing Christian. 

  • Lizzy's picture
    Posted: Sat, 08/27/2016 06:59 pm

    Brendan Bossard,

    No, like everything else, Trump said the list would be the starting point and the end result is up for negotiation.  It is all about the art of the deal for him and his willingness to say whatever he thinks a particular constituency wants to hear.  Witness his pivot this week on immigration where he flipped to the other side of Rubio in his quest to pick up the hispanic vote.  The only way someone can claim that Trump is speaking honestly is to give him a pass to hold a new position every time he is wooing a new group of voters.  At this point I am beginning to think that even Trump doesn't know what his actual postions are.

  • Lizzy's picture
    Posted: Sat, 08/27/2016 07:15 pm

    Kimon Nicolaides III,

    You wrote:

    "I agree Trump is really a big sinner. I also think anyone who does not get out and vote for him this November is just about as likely to land up in Hell on judgment day as Hillary  Clinton.

    Why? Simply because God has given you a brain and he expects you to use it as a steward over his creation."

    Really?  What makes you think that bullying someone by telling them their salvation is at risk because they may not vote the way you think they should is in any way a Christian postion to take?  Your view of salvation would seem to be entirely works based if you believe that not voting a certain way can cause someone to lose their salvation.  The only "vote" that causes someone to be saved would be the one where we choose (or are chosen, depending on your interpretation of Scripture) Christ.  Fortunately for us, it is by grace and faith in Him and not by our works or none of us would be saved.

  • NB
    Posted: Mon, 08/29/2016 10:55 am

    Sadly, I see no reason to believe Trump will keep his Supreme Court promises. Shortly after producing the list he said he might not choose a name from the list. He has also showed he does not care for some of the rights enshrined in our founding documents. Anyone who threatens a free press is how likely to nominate solid justices? Someone who loves one of the most badly-decided cases ever, the Kelo eminent domain case, is how likely to nominate solid justices? Even on Roe, how long has Trump been pro-life? Besides, how can a serial liar be trusted to keep any promise? I deeply sympathize with the motivations of my brothers and sisters who long to see the Supreme Court saved for another generation. I have much more confidence that a President McMullin would secure this than I do that Trump would. I'm glad to see McMullin has vaulted over several other candidates in his three short weeks running. I believe he deserves a close look by everyone who has been longing for a better choice.

  • Allen Johnson
    Posted: Mon, 08/29/2016 07:09 pm

    What to me is more distressing is the emphasis on issues.  I mean, Environment and Pollution 0%!!!  Don't we care about the planetary home we live upon, let alone God's clear instruction to Adam to nurture and protect the garden?!

    Abortion indeed is a grave moral social deficit, but so is the obscene amount of money and talent going to prop up the empire and the military-industrial complex.  So-called just war reasoning and abortion reasoning are of a similiar cloth.
    Rather depressing to know that 20 years ago evangelical Christian leaders were railing against Bill Clinton's sexual immorality, and some of the same leaders now ignore Trump's vastly more egregious sexual sins. But then, isn't power for their own religious fiefdoms what some of these "Christian" leaders really after?