In the 2016 presidential election, evangelical voters were some of President Donald Trump’s most stalwart supporters. But new data from the Pew Research Center indicates that his support among white evangelical women has dropped about 13 percentage points, to 60 percent, compared with about a year ago.
Michael Tackett, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times, spoke with women evangelical voters in Grapevine, Texas about whether some of these Trump adherents may be having second thoughts about the president.
“Sixty percent is still a pretty healthy number,” Tackett says. “But it’s not 73. That’s why I think you’re going to see some people who are saying, ‘we still would support Trump as opposed to another Democrat, but if given an alternative in a Republican primary, we are open to that.’”
Several women interviewed by Tackett in Grapevine said they preferred the United Nations ambassador and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as an alternative to Trump.
“My theory in the case of the midterm elections is that women are sort of going to be the fulcrum of the election one way or another.” Tackett says. “Looking at evangelical women is a way to examine that.”
One factor in Trump’s loss of support among evangelical women is the White House’s efforts to silence the pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with the president. But Tackett says that now, in some respects, the evangelical vote isn’t necessarily tethered to religious views.
“I must say that there’s also a pragmatism now among these voters that wasn’t there,” Tackett says. “They are willing to say ‘well, that happened in the past and I don’t care’ or ‘what about Bill Clinton?’”
He says women he spoke with rationalize their support for the president by comparing his allegations to other scandals.
Although this loss of enthusiasm could make the Republican Party more vulnerable in its efforts to keep control of Congress, Tackett says that’s not an uncommon scenario in midterm elections.
“That’s certainly got to be one of the red flags that they look at,” he says. “In 2008, Barack Obama had a huge turnout among young people and minority voters, and then in 2010 that enthusiasm waned and the Democrats lost a lot of seats. Any time part of the structural base of your party is a little shaky that’s a cause for concern.”
Written by Cesar Lopez-Linares.