Clinton’s critical mistake: Ignoring evangelicals

Campaign 2016 | President Barack Obama’s faith outreach director dings Clinton campaign for dismissing important sector of the electorate
by Emily Belz
Posted 11/09/16, 01:21 pm

Reflecting on Democrats’ stunning loss last night, the former faith outreach director for President Barack Obama’s successful 2012 campaign said Hillary Clinton’s campaign made a critical mistake in ignoring evangelical voters.

“We asked for the votes of evangelicals and the Clinton campaign didn’t,” Michael Wear, who also led evangelical outreach for the faith-based office at the Obama White House, told me. “It’s a campaign, you ask for people’s votes. And Hillary asked for just about every vote except this group of voters.”

White evangelicals make up about a quarter of the electorate, and exit polls showed they voted for President-elect Donald Trump over Clinton 81-16 percent. That’s certainly not the only explanation for Trump’s political upset, but it’s one piece. Obama won 26 percent of the white evangelical vote in 2008 and 20 percent in 2012.

“Evangelicals feel embattled in this country,” Wear said. “Donald Trump’s case to evangelical voters was that he was the only one who cared about them, the only one who could save them. After we have a conversation about whether evangelicals should be looking to a politician to be saved—Hillary Clinton’s pretty historic silence toward white evangelicals, the campaign’s ignoring these voters, worked to affirm the isolation they were feeling, to affirm the case Trump was making … [her] campaign wasn’t even interested in being in the argument. That hurts.”

The Clinton campaign press office never once responded to several inquiries from WORLD reporters throughout the election cycle. Campaign officials didn’t bother because they didn’t think they needed white evangelicals. What was determinative in the election, in Wear’s analysis, was “Democrats’ assumptions about the voters they needed and the voters they didn’t need—and assumptions about what the electorate would look like.”

On that topic, Wear thinks Clinton’s position on repealing the Hyde Amendment, which alienated many evangelicals, did not work out strategically in turning out white women voters.

“Maybe pouring tens of millions of campaign dollars into how pro-choice your candidate is, maybe that’s not as motivating as some groups want to tell us it is,” Wear said.

Will last night’s results shift the Democratic Party on social issues like abortion?

“Historically midterm elections have been more difficult for Democrats, and there’s a higher percentage of older white voters,” Wear said. “So there are some very important Senate races coming up in 2018 and a position on Hyde like that will be tough. That being said, the formal opportunity to revisit the Democratic platform isn’t for four years. … I really doubt there’s going to be a movement to change.”

Emily Belz

Emily is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and previously reported for the The New York Daily News, The Indianapolis Star, and Philanthropy magazine. Emily resides in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @emlybelz.

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  • MTJanet
    Posted: Wed, 11/09/2016 01:38 pm

    HIllary courted our deepest disgust and was prideful enough to think that all women would fall in line to have the opportunity to put a woman in the highest office in the land.  Until Democrats value life and those made in His image, they will continue to deserve our deepest disgust on that issue.   

  • infohighwy
    Posted: Wed, 11/09/2016 01:57 pm

    Evangelicals now know that they are like snowflakes (not the “snowflake millennials” referred to in the “safe space, micro aggression” college campus context). Snowflakes are so delicate, so light, so airy, so beautiful and dainty. However, if you get enough of them together at the same time, you can stop a locomotive! Isn’t it nice to wake up the day after the election and realize that the unity of being one in Christ can lead to changes that may someday bring repentance and revival back to this broken world? Come on, kindred spirits, let it snow!

  • Reforming
    Posted: Thu, 11/10/2016 12:52 am

    With all due respect, Are you serious? Are you saying that Christians expressed our unity in Christ by joining together to vote for a serial adulterer;  for a man who has made his wealth through one of the most sordid and destructive industires; for a man who speaks of women in horrifcally vulgar and demeaning ways; for a man who claims to be a Christian and yet says that he is too busy to attend (let alone to be a meaningful member of a local church)? I have little if any respect for Alec Baldwin, but he is not far off the mark when he says that this election forever changed the meaning of 'Christian' when it comes to politics. The repentance that we need should probably begin with those Christians who voted for our new President.


  • Leeper
    Posted: Wed, 11/09/2016 02:11 pm

    Why would she court evangelicals when all her positions are against the Bible.

  • GJ
    Posted: Wed, 11/09/2016 02:27 pm

    Choosing Mike Pence for a running-mate got my vote!

  • Hans's picture
    Posted: Fri, 11/11/2016 04:36 am

    That makes so much sense. We all know how Joe Biden is the hurricane wind behind Obama's sails, right? 


    Come on. The only reason Trump chose Pence was to buy evangelical votes. The VP role is to become the president if the current president dies, and to break ties in the Senate. It's an embarassment to imagine that he chose him because he appreciates his values. Clinton chose Kaine to buy Virginia. The VP choice is always about buying votes by balancing the ticket. I cannot understand why people fall for this.

  • AMYB
    Posted: Wed, 11/09/2016 02:51 pm

    I have seen remarks on social media about Clinton losing because she is a woman... and it is upsetting to me because her gender had nothing to do with why I would not vote for her! I never heard a single person say that they would not vote for her because she was a woman. I heard many say they would not vote for her for a myriad of reasons, but gender did not play a role. To play the "gender card" is so ridiculous! Thank you, WORLD, for pointing out ONE of the REAL reasons why she was not elected!! 

  •  Wilebo's picture
    Posted: Wed, 11/09/2016 07:48 pm


  • NR
    Posted: Wed, 11/09/2016 03:33 pm

    Maybe from a worldly perspctive, I simplify the whole voting decision process too much.  For all of my adult life, I've simply voted for the candidate most likely to give unborn children a chance.  Not necessarily even expecting a complete reversal, but at least,

    movement toward limits.  It scrambles my brain and gives me goosebumps to be face to face with a dear brother or sister in Christ who does not feel this way.  The thought of facing my God one day and not being able to deny that I upheld, with full knowledge and understanding and without repentance, a govenment leader who condoned the murder of unborn children, is more fearful than I can fathom.  And now, it is public knowledge that it has escaleted to disecting and selling, like harvesting a crop.  I would truly like to give the actual political "issues" more study and consideration, but I don't even bother.

    God's mercy and grace on this nation astounds me.


  • Theodore
    Posted: Wed, 11/09/2016 08:54 pm

    I heartily agree.  I cannot comprehend how a disciple of Jesus could ever condone abortion.  I would also like to be able to delve into more issues but I'm mostly presented with one candidate who chooses life and one who chooses death and I have to vote for life!

    I plead with You Father to bring revival to our land and our world.  Please Father.  Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done.

  • Hawkdriver
    Posted: Wed, 11/09/2016 10:18 pm

    Amen to that.  Life is sacred from conception to natural death.  Eternal life is sacred, let us pursue Him and eternal life for those around.

  • BA
    Posted: Thu, 11/10/2016 09:04 am


  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Thu, 11/10/2016 02:53 am

    It sounds like the message is that if Hillary had just tampered down that abortion thing, like maybe killing children before they were full term, she would have gotten more of the evangelical vote and therefore the White House so she could continue her life of corruption.  Really?  Evangelicals need to realize that there is more to running a country than just one issue.

  • BA
    Posted: Thu, 11/10/2016 10:35 am

    Since Woe vs Wade there have been over 58 million abortions in this country alone.  According to some statistics only 0.2 percent annually (2006 report) are partial birth abortions. ONLY!  That is over 2000 abortions, murders shortly before birth of the defenseless unborn per year.  She could not tamp down the "abortion thing".  We knew her stand and Pres. Obama's.  There is a lot more to running a country than one issue, on this you are correct but if our leader does not defend and protect the defenseless what type of person are they?  How are they going to lead when life does not matter? We have had many such leaders.  In the many years I have been voting (since Ford), I have not heard any person running for president support life as Mr. Trump did.  None.  I don't know if he is going to be the leader we hope he will be but I am going to pray for him, his cabinet choices, his Supreme Court choices, etc.  As Americans we have not gotten the "abortion thing" right.  Women do not have the choice.  This is not their body growing inside them.  They have a choice before pregnancy (mostly) but after conception is a child and is known to God. Ps. 139:13,14 "...Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.  I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;"  Read Luke 1:41 to end or all of 1 for that matter.  Elisabeth's response to Mary (mother of Jesus right after Mary being told of her conception).

    We cannot put this issue on the back burner because there are other pressing matters.  I thank the Lord that Mrs. Clinton did not get into the White House to continue "her life of corruption".  I will not let this issue go.  You should listen, as I did to the senator describing partial birth abortion.  I did before Bill Clinton approved it.  It made me weep.  

    Jesus said "suffer the little children to come unto me", "it is better that a millstone be tied around their neck and they be thrown into the deepest sea than they harm one of these little ones."  If we and our president do not value life and what is right according to the Word of God, then what do we value, our money, our possessions, our security, what?  What trumps life? (pun intended)

    Please don't be so naive to believe this is the only reason for voting Trump but it is definitly an important one.



  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Thu, 11/10/2016 11:47 am

    @BSA  I think we agree.  The article was about Hillary's "missed opportunity" to go after evangelicals.  So I was speculating on what that might have looked like.  Would she have compromised slightly on abortion?  Would that single issue have pulled in some evangelicals?  Perhaps, but my point is evangelicals shouldn't be single issue voters.  Having Hillary as president would have meant an even more liberal court and she would probably renege on any compromises she had made anyway.

  • Kiwi's picture
    Posted: Thu, 11/10/2016 08:02 pm

    I don't think Mrs. Clinton ignored evangelicals at all.  Throughout her career, she has shown her hatred and contempt for us.  She has championed policies that take away our freedoms to proclaim God's Word to a sin-sick society.  She has championed the murder of children, she has taken blood-money from Muslim dictators to cause our government to look away as they commit genocide against christians in Africa and the Middle East. She has mocked, derided and belittled us.... and although I am not a Trump supporter, and I voted against him, she would lump me in with her basket of deplorables... you can't really call half the nation deplorable, then expect them to vote for you.

  • Leeper
    Posted: Sun, 11/13/2016 05:00 pm

    Hans sounds like Mike Pence is heading up the transition team. Important role.