White evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons carried Trump
That was the headline from RNS, the Religious News Service (here). It is at best misleading. While all these groups voted for Trump in greater numbers than Jews or black evangelicals, this is an overly simplistic analysis. These groups always vote Republican. A more meaningful approach is to compare percentages voting for Trump versus Mitt Romney in 2012. Only those groups who exceeded the Romney baseline helped elect Trump.
For example, 52% of White Catholics voted for Trump, while 59% voted for Romney. Clearly, the white Catholic vote hurt Trump, rather than carrying him. Needless to say, the Latino Catholic vote hurt Trump – 67% voted for Clinton. While Trump received 61% percent of the Mormon vote, Mormons hurt him – 78% previously voted for Romney, who was an elder of the Mormon Church.
Of all these religious groups, only white evangelicals voted for Trump in larger numbers – 81% for Trump vs. 78% for Romney. Many evangelicals do not believe that Mormons are Christians (although the Mormon Church is officially “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”), which hurt Romney.
This should put an end to the claim that evangelicals are (moral) values voters. Mitt Romney was squeaky-clean and a pious church-goer. Donald Trump never goes to church, could not quote a favorite Bible passage, is a serial adulterer, is charged with more than a dozen counts of sexual harassment and about 75 cases of theft (failure to pay contractors). According to fact-checkers, he is also a serial, pants-on-fire liar. By any measure, Trump is anything but a model of moral values.
Evangelicals not only claim to support “family values,” they also push “conservative” ideals like balanced budgets. They recently came out with a screed denouncing Obama and Clinton for running deficits, as I previously discussed (Demagogues for Donald Trump). I predict that they will be remarkably quiet when President Trump expands the deficit by cutting taxes while increasing spending. Evangelical leaders are boys from Babylon, serving mammon.
Why Trump Won
While RNS emphasizes the religious vote, that was probably only a secondary factor. The fact that Clinton was a woman hurt her much more. The religious right are anti-feminist. They defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. While people may be reluctant to admit it, many are uncomfortable with the idea of a woman president. Clinton failed to score well even with women voters. Romney got the vote of 21% of Latino Catholics, while Trump, who repeatedly insulted and attacked Latinos, got 26%. They just didn’t want to vote for a woman. They had lots of company.