‘We Are All Embarrassed’: Some White Evangelical Women Quietly Step Away from President Trump

Carol Rains, left, an evangelical Christian in Texas, doesn’t regret her vote for President Trump but would like to see another Republican run against him in 2020. Her friend Linda Leonhart agrees: “I will definitely take a look to see who has the courage to take on a job like this and do what needs to be done.” (Credit: Allison V. Smith for The New York Times)
Carol Rains, left, an evangelical Christian in Texas, doesn’t regret her vote for President Trump but would like to see another Republican run against him in 2020. Her friend Linda Leonhart agrees: “I will definitely take a look to see who has the courage to take on a job like this and do what needs to be done.” (Credit: Allison V. Smith for The New York Times)

Carol Rains, a white evangelical Christian, has no regrets over her vote for President Trump. She likes most of his policies and would still support him over any Democrat. But she is open to another Republican.

“I would like for someone to challenge him,” Ms. Rains said, as she sipped wine recently with two other evangelical Christian women at a suburban restaurant north of Dallas. “But it needs to be somebody that’s strong enough to go against the Democrats.” Her preferred alternative: Nikki R. Haley, the United Nations ambassador and former South Carolina governor.

One of her friends, Linda Leonhart, agreed. “I will definitely take a look to see who has the courage to take on a job like this and do what needs to be done,” she said.

While the men in the pulpits of evangelical churches remain among Mr. Trump’s most stalwart supporters, some of the women in the pews may be having second thoughts. As the White House fights to silence a pornographic actress claiming an affair with Mr. Trump, and a jailed Belarusian escort claims evidence against the American president, Mr. Trump’s hold on white evangelical women may be slipping.

According to data from the Pew Research Center, support among white evangelical women in recent surveys has dropped about 13 percentage points, to 60 percent, compared with about a year ago. That is even greater than the eight-point drop among all women.

“That change is statistically significant,” said Gregory A. Smith, Pew’s associate director of research, who also noted a nine-point drop among evangelical men. “Both groups have become less approving over time.”

If that drop in support translates into a lack of enthusiasm among core Trump supporters in the midterm elections in November, as it did for many of President Barack Obama’s voters in 2010, the Republican Party could be more vulnerable in its efforts to maintain control of Congress. In 2020, it would also possibly open a lane for a primary challenger to the president.

The women in suburban Dallas all conceded they have cringed sometimes at Mr. Trump, citing his pettiness, impulsiveness, profanity and name calling. Still, they defended him because he delivered on issues they cared most about, such as the appointment of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

“Certainly we are all embarrassed, but for the most part he represents what we stand for,” said Ms. Leonhart, who is active in the women’s ministry at her church.

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SOURCE: MICHAEL TACKETT
The New York Times