Evangelicals with high levels of political interest will support President Donald Trump even more solidly on Nov. 3 than they did in 2016, but for different reasons, survey researcher George Barna said on Oct. 30.
Barna asked 69 questions of 1,600 individuals he defines as Spiritually Active, Governance-Engaged Conservative Christians (SAGE Cons). He asked the same 69 questions to an additional 900 individuals deemed Near-SAGE Cons. The survey was commissioned by the Family Research Council (FRC) and conducted in late September.
While such voters represent only about a tenth of the nation’s overall population, their electoral influence is magnified by their high turnout percentages and their frequent involvement in the political process between elections.
“SAGE Cons are a unique portion of the larger population: more spiritually active and driven, more politically informed and active, much more likely to possess a biblical worldview that informs their thinking and choices,” Barna said in a statement issued by Arizona Christian University’s Cultural Research Center, where Barna is director of research.
SAGE Cons also reflect “an extremely high degree of consensus on a broad range of issues and beliefs. SAGE Cons are an important barometer of how the conservative Christian population will behave in the election,” Barna added in the statement.
At 96 percent, SAGE Cons’ support for Trump is even more solid in 2020 than it was in 2016, at 91 percent, the statement said, although for much different reasons in the current campaign.
“Four years ago, most ‘SAGE Cons’ reluctantly voted for Trump, selecting him because they felt his opponent, Hillary Clinton, was a danger to America and stood for numerous things that conflicted with the beliefs of SAGE Cons,” the statement said.
“The chief differences driving that distaste for Clinton were her stands on abortion, the role of the U.S. Supreme Court and the types of nominees she would offer for confirmation, her desire to expand the reach and power of the federal government, and her views about religious freedom.
“While there is still considerable frustration with his social media postings, SAGE Cons appreciate the Trump Administration’s progress related to federal court appointments, support for pro-life policies, investments in the military and enforcement of the law, attempts to reduce the federal bureaucracy and the authority of the federal government, strengthening America’s relationship with Israel, and support for the free market economy.”
Barna said in the statement that he thinks there’s large group of “hidden” or “shy” Trump voters who won’t disclose their preferences to pollsters or others and that the group is expanding as the election nears.
“There does appear to be a ‘hidden’ Trump vote, probably in the range of 4 to 8 percentage points,” he said. “Once the Trump support base was alerted to such a ‘hidden’ base of Trump support, that awareness of the ‘hidden’ support seems to have generated momentum among other Trump supporters to either refuse to answer surveys, thus skewing survey samples, or to provide misleading answers to the candidate preference question, thereby skewing the measured response.”
Barna noted that “some conservative voters have described how unsafe they felt when asked to divulge their candidate preference to a researcher they did not know and had no reason to trust regarding confidentiality and security. The events in the streets lately have stoked those fears.”
He also pointed out that “there are a number of instances where the national media have misrepresented the incidence of party identification of the voting population, effectively skewing the survey results.
“In each case discovered so far, the proportion of Democrats has been unrealistically inflated, and the proportion of Republicans has been diminished, giving the Democrats a false advantage in the presidential preference estimates.
“Polls by CBS News, Fox News, CNN, You Gov, and Reuters, among others, have all released surveys based on samples with distorted proportions of party identification.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc