How did Donald Trump pull off the most surprising presidential win in our lifetime? Some will tell you he won because of the Independents. Others will credit the Republicans “coming home.” Still others will credit the rural vote, the aging vote, or the neo-conservative vote. But they would all be wrong. Donald Trump owes his election win to one voting block – it’s that simple.
Donald Trump won the White House because of the overwhelming support of white evangelicals. By a 4-to-1 margin, this voting bloc re-emerged. The rumors of their demise were greatly exaggerated. Not since 2004 have white evangelicals come out in such force.
Despite reservations expressed by many evangelical and Republican leaders, white born-again/evangelical Christians cast their ballots for the controversial real estate mogul-turned-politician at an 81 percent to 16 percent margin over Hillary Clinton. (The other three percent went to other candidates.)
“The story here continues to be continuity in the strength of evangelical support for GOP candidates, rather than greater intensity,” said Kevin den Dulk, political science professor at Calvin College.
While Clinton’s campaign largely ignored evangelical outreach (unlike Obama), Trump spent much of the months leading up to Election Day directly courting evangelical support. Those voters – particularly in battleground states such as Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida – proved to be one of his strongest support bases.
White evangelicals made up one in four voters in the 2016 election. Trump gave a victory speech around 2:50 a.m. Wednesday, thanking his family, staff, and supporters, including evangelical stalwarts Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence said, “I come to this moment deeply humbled, grateful to God for his amazing grace.”
Will President Trump embrace white evangelicals? That is to be determined. But one thing is sure – white evangelicals have embraced him. He couldn’t have won without them.