The answer seems to be the growing anti-establishment sentiments held by many evangelical Christians. (After all, the Tea Party movement draws “disproportionate support” from their ranks.) Not only are conservative Christians solidly Republican, they are also fierce traditionalists who feel that their values are increasingly under assault by modern society.
They like a candidate who will stand up to “the media”—whether Jorge Ramos or Megyn Kelly—because they feel reporters don’t give them a fair shake either. They are drawn to a candidate who hails from outside the Beltway—even if his hometown is the elitist island of Manhattan—because they think the Washington establishment has abandoned them. And they appreciate someone who makes no apology for using politically incorrect rhetoric—even if this includes a bit of profanity or misogyny—because they believe society is increasingly intolerant of many of their sentiments, too.
Trump’s support among evangelicals is substantial, but it isn’t, well, yuuuuge. It’s too early to say whether Trump can grow his support among conservative Christians and continue to expand it to the broader Republican base. He’ll need to do both in order to win the primary, much less contend in the general election. For now, evangelicals need to ask themselves whether Trump’s brashness is enough to make them overlook many of the values they hold most dear.