Trump’s base: not the white working class, but white evangelicals — all men and lesser-educated women — who believe the ends justify the means

Trump’s base: not the white working class, but white evangelicals — all men and lesser-educated women — who believe the ends justify the means

Via Digby:
1. Trump has always been unpopular with college-educated voters

[A] Pew Research assessment … [using a] validated voter survey (they matched voter file with the survey respondents) showed white women narrowly preferring Trump to Clinton by 2 points – 47 percent to 45 percent. … the Pew data suggests white women have always been, at best, ambivalent about Trump.

… Clinton won (white college-educated voters ) voters by 17 points!

… if you compared Trump’s current standing with the Pew data[,] Trump took 38 percent of college-educated voters in 2016, and his current standing with these voters is….37 percent. Their vote preference in 2016 (38 percent Trump to 55 percent Clinton), pretty much mirrors their vote preference for 2018 – 39 percent Republican to 54 percent Democrat.

2. But the biggest determinant is whether a voter is evangelical

Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO’s political director, suggests that … [w]hat really distinguishes a Trump-supporting white voter from one who doesn’t isn’t education or even gender, it’s whether or not that voter is evangelical.



Using a data set from Public Religion Research Institute, Podhorzer broke out white voters by gender, education and whether they identified as evangelical. The gap between white voters who approve and disapprove of Trump by gender was 25 points. By education (college versus non-college) it was about the same at 26 percent. But the gap in perceptions of the president between white voters who are evangelical and those who aren’t was a whopping 60 percent!

This evangelical support gap transcends education and gender. For example, among white evangelicals, college-educated men and non-college educated men give Trump equally impressive job approval ratings (78 percent and 80 percent respectively). But, among white men who aren’t evangelical, the education gap is significant. Those without a college degree give Trump a 52 percent job approval rating, while just 40 percent of those with a college degree approve of the job he’s doing.


White evangelical women without a college degree give Trump a 68 percent job approval rating, while those with a degree give him a much lower, though still positive 51 percent approval rating. Meanwhile, Trump’s approval among white, non-evangelical women without a college degree is 35 percent, just five points higher than the 30 percent approval rating he gets from white, non-evangelical college-educated women.

Podhorzer’s analysis leads to two conclusions. First, … Trump’s base is evangelical white voters, regardless of education level. Second, white non-evangelical, non-college women are the ultimate swing voters.

It’s fairly clear that the justification that evangelicals have for supporting Trump is that, no matter how vile he is personally, no matter how many laws and norms he flouts, he is being used by God to do God’s work.
Which brings to mind the story attributed to Sir Thomas More in the 1960s film “A Man for All Seasons”:
  • Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
    More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?