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Religious Supporters And Opponents Of Donald Trump – OpEd

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The majority of Americans are religious, and according to the latest Pew survey, 83% of white evangelical Americans support Trump for reelection (62% strongly) although that is only 2 points above the percentage that voted for him in 2016, and given how much he’s delivered for them, I think he should be doing even better.

Four years ago, Trump won a bigger proportion of white evangelical votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history, and he will win by an even greater proportion in this election because the number of white evangelicals have been in steady decline for the last 15 years, which is why many white evangelical voters are sympathetic to anti-foreigner white supremest groups.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, said it had 14.8 million members in 2018, down by a million and a half since it peaked at 16.3 million in 2006.

In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade.

Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up nine points from 17% in 2009.

Fifty-nine percent of white Catholics voted for Trump in 2016 and 59% still support him over (white Catholic) Biden today. But surprisingly Trump supporters have risen from fewer than a quarter of Latino Catholics who voted for Trump in 2016, to one-third of them who back him now.

No religious group in recent decades has been more Republican than the Latter-day Saints, but Mormon support for Trump in 2016 was relatively weak, and their level of support has increased only 2 points since 2016. Then, 56% of them cast their ballots for him. This year, according to a survey published in January, 58% support him over Biden.

Trump’s support has declined by three points in two large religious groups. While only 8% of Black Protestants, the most Democratic religious group in the country, voted for Trump in 2016, now just 5% support him.

And where 62% of non-evangelical whites — mainline Protestants — voted for Trump in 2016, now 59% prefer him to Biden; and suburban women account for most of that loss of support.

Jews are a very strong Democratic voter group. But Orthodox Jews, who are only 10% of the American Jewish population, have moved strongly in Trump’s direction especially since Trump’s daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism.

In 2016, only 28% of all Jews voted for Trump, while 37% say they’d vote for him now. Not since 1980 has a Republican presidential candidate received such a large proportion of Jewish support.

Then, Ronald Reagan’s 39% was at least in part the result of the Jewish community’s sense that Jimmy Carter was no friend of Israel. That Trump is doing so well today is probably the result of his moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and the Israel-UAE-Bahrain agreement.

A Garin-Hart-Yang online survey of 810 Jewish voters nationally which was conducted from September 2 to 7, 2020, found that 67% of Jewish voters disapprove of President Trump’s job performance. This is about 15% higher than the American electorate as a whole.

70% of Jewish voters view Joe Biden in favorable terms, more than 20% higher than the American electorate and two-thirds of Jewish voters say they will vote for Joe Biden over the 30% who will vote for President Trump. And three-quarters of Jewish women say they favor Biden.

Jewish voters have a much more positive views of the protestors and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement than the overall electorate (a CNN national survey showed BLM’s image as 51% favorable and 38% unfavorable), while non-Orthodox Jews have positive feelings toward both groups by better than two-to-one. 

Even two-fifths of Jewish Republicans have positive impressions of the protestors and BLM.

A little less than two-fifths of Jews under age 60 plan to vote on Election Day (compared to just one sixth of Jews age 60+), and a plurality of these younger Jews still plan to vote by some form of absentee ballot. Unlike other constituencies, most Jewish voters plan to vote BEFORE election day and feel comfortable with a not-in-person voting method.

The low number of Jewish “undecided” responses (3%) suggests a Jewish electorate that has already made up its mind.

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Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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