Billy Graham Center Institute Finds That Trump’s Stance on Immigration Is Influential in Determining Evangelical Support

The 2016 election exit polls indicated evangelicals strongly supported Donald Trump for President. New research suggests that nearly two-thirds of evangelicals cite his stance on immigration as an influential reason in determining their support of Trump in 2016. In fact, 15 percent of Trump voters say it was the most important issue, second only to “improving the economy” (19 percent).

The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College partnered with LifeWay Research in May 2018 to poll 3,000 Americans about their voting in the last national election.

According to the research, one in ten evangelicals by belief (using the National Association of Evangelicals research rubric)—including all those who voted in the 2016 presidential election—say immigration was the most important reason in deciding how they cast their vote in 2016. Only the economy (17 percent) and healthcare (11 percent) were named by more evangelicals.

The most important reasons cited by non-evangelicals for their vote were similar, but “personal character” of the candidate was cited as the most important reason by 13 percent of non-evangelicals, as opposed to only 7 percent of evangelicals.

The research also indicates immigration was significantly more important to those evangelicals who voted for Trump than Hillary Clinton. One in eight evangelicals (15 percent) who voted for Trump say immigration was the most important issue in deciding their vote, while nearly two-thirds (62 percent) listed immigration as an issue that influenced their vote.

Only three percent of evangelicals who voted for Clinton say immigration was the most important deciding factor, while one-third (32 percent) say it was an important issue. More Clinton evangelicals, immigration considered healthcare (58 percent), helping those in need (54 percent), the economy (50 percent), and personal character (45 percent) in influence. In contrast, only the economy (72%) and national security (63%) were viewed as influential by more Trump evangelicals.

“Although immigration wasn’t the leading reason for evangelical support of Trump, it was important to a significant contingent,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center. “And it remains so as we approach the mid-terms.”

Immigration was most important to even more non-evangelical Trump voters. Twenty-one percent of non-evangelical Trump voters say immigration was the most important reason for their vote versus 15 percent of evangelical Trump supporters.

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Source: Christianity Today