The best exit polling we have right now comes from Edison Research. The Washington Post summarizes it here. According to Edison, 76% of white evangelical voters chose Trump. 23% of white evangelical voters chose Biden.
In 2016, roughly 81% of white evangelicals chose Donald Trump and 16% voted for Hillary Clinton.
If the Edison research is correct, the white evangelical vote is fairly similar to the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections.
I don’t see much difference between the white evangelical vote for Trump in 2016 (76%) and 2020 (81%). In Believe Me, I explained why so many white evangelicals voted for such an immoral president. The reasons they did it again in 2020 are generally the same. I think the number is slightly lower this year because a small percentage of white evangelicals just grew disgusted by Trump’s character, handling of COVID-19, and his failures on race.
But why are Biden’s numbers in 2020 9% higher than Hillary Clinton in 2016? I see two related reasons:
First, Biden is not Hillary Clinton. Evangelicals are not supposed to hate, but they hate Clinton. Some white evangelicals who would never vote for Hillary were comfortable voting for Biden.
Second, there were no legitimate third party candidates. No Evan McMullen. No Gary Johnson. So more anti-Trump evangelicals, for reasons I mentioned above, voted for the Democratic candidate.
We will see if the work of sociologists and political scientists bear this out.
This is not some kind of white evangelical shift to the Democratic Party. Biden got roughly the same amount of white evangelical votes as Barack Obama and John Kerry. In other words, the narrative remains the same: an immoral and incompetent president, running for a second term, got a lot of white evangelical votes. Little has changed. This is the story historians will tell.