Since I published my recent piece on the court evangelicals at The Washington Post, I have been getting a lot of mail. Yesterday, for example, I heard from three well-known leaders of evangelical institutions/organizations/congregations. These people are not court evangelicals. They are part of what I would call the evangelical mainstream–the men and women who are represented best by the National Association of Evangelicals. They are all, to one degree or another, anti-Trump. None of them voted for Trump.
All three of these leaders were greatly bothered by the popular media claim, based on polling data, that 81% of white evangelical voters pulled the lever for Donald Trump. They all insisted that the 81% number needs to be examined more fully. These people spend a lot of time traveling throughout the evangelical world and all three of them claimed that they just don’t meet many fellow evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump.
My exchanges with these evangelical leaders reminded me of an e-mail conversation I had the other day with a keen and relatively objective observer of the American religious scene. (I don’t know this person’s religious faith, if she/he has one at all. My guess is that this person is not an evangelical). This observer was wondering whether or not the 81% has made pundits lazy, preventing them from digging any deeper into the polling data.
What do you think?