Trump’s overtures struggle to register with religious voters

One prominent evangelical leader close to the White House said Biden’s policy positions on abortion and religious freedom, which would normally spoil how some religious voters view the Democratic presidential nominee, have been overshadowed by the contrast between the former vice president’s palpable faith and Trump’s transactional view of religion. Another chided Trump for his “cold response” to the nationwide reckoning over systemic racism, claiming the president’s law-and-order messaging has given Biden an opening to connect with churchgoing Americans who are accustomed to calls for courage and justice.

Their concerns may be registering, according to a new study of Catholic and evangelical voters that suggests Trump is poised to lose a sizable chunk of his Christian voters in November, raising questions about his path to reelection and the potential value in religious outreach that Biden’s predecessor Hillary Clinton largely eschewed.

The online survey, which was commissioned by the left-leaning group Vote Common Good and conducted by a team of academic pollsters from the University of Southern California, Duke University, University of Maryland College Park and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, predicts an 11 percentage point swing toward Biden among evangelicals and Catholics who backed Trump in 2016, based on input from both demographics across five major 2020 battleground states: Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Other polls have captured similar gains in Biden’s religious support, including an August survey by Fox News that showed the former vice president at 28 percent support among white evangelicals — up 12 percentage points from 2016 exit polls for the Democratic nominee.