In and around white evangelicalism there’s a long debate about exactly how popular Donald Trump is and who the self-described white evangelicals are in all those polls. Some white evangelicals have continued to insist that polls are capturing the opinions of Trumpist “cultural evangelicals” who aren’t actually connected to local churches. Others say that the polling largely captures the reality of what white evangelicalism has become.
Reuters has a large ongoing rolling poll average that gives us another data point in this debate. It allows you to filter the data by a lot of different attributes. It shows some fascinating results.*
Let’s combine the polling from the last month and progressively narrow it down to smaller populations:
Trump approval/disapproval among:
Public: 38.3% / 57.0%
Ok, the public is not happy with the President.
Whites: 47.9% / 47.9%
White Americans are evenly split.
White born again Christians: 65.4% / 30.5%
Two-thirds of self-described “white born again Christians” favor Trump. Now here’s where it gets interesting. If the “cultural evangelical” thesis is correct, self-described white born again Christians who rarely attend church will be more supportive of Trump than self-described white born again Christians who frequently attend church. Let’s see:
White born again Christians who attend church several times a year: 61% / 36%
Hmmm. Less favorable toward Trump than white born again Christians overall. What about more faithful church attenders?
White born again Christians who attend church every week: 70% / 27%
White born again Christians who attend church more than once a week: 80% / 17.6%
For what it’s worth, there you have it. Reuters thinks it’s the people in church every time the doors are open that are most supportive of Trump. Assuming for a moment that the data points to something real, it raises questions about what’s driving the correlation. Obviously it’s multi-causal, but it’s worth asking whether there is something about these church environments themselves that make faithfully engaged people more likely to support oppression.
I’m not good with statistics so tell me if I’m getting something wrong here. Obviously the more filters you add the smaller the sample size and the larger the margin of error. But these results align with other polling data that seems to refute the talking point that “cultural” evangelicals are more supportive of Trump than faithful churchgoing white evangelicals.