In the aftermath of the presidential election, one thing is unclear about the Evangelical vote, and two things are quite clear. Here’s what’s hazy: Did Joe Biden win the presidency in part because there was just barely enough slippage in the white Evangelical vote to make a difference in key counties in key states?
My friend Michael Wear makes that case in the New York Times, relying in large part on exit polls. He may well be right, but there is some conflict in the available polling. So I’m going to take the advice of my podcast co-host Sarah Isgur (who hates exit polls) and wait until 1) the exit polls have been re-weighted; and 2) I can dive fully into actual, county-level voting data before I test the vote-slip hypothesis.
But while the precise level of white Evangelical support may be unclear, their overwhelming electoral preference is not. White Evangelicals once again supported Donald Trump as least as much as they supported Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush. Moreover, their support isn’t simply about religious liberty and abortion. As a group, they’re not holding their noses and casting their votes based on those two issues alone. No, they’re Republicans down the line.
In fact, as Eastern Illinois University’s Ryan Burge notes, if you really drill down into white Evangelical political preferences, immigration explains their support for Trump more than abortion. Here’s how Burge outlines white Evangelical politics: