According to CNN polling and this excellent chart in Philip Bump’s recent piece at The Washington Post, white evangelicals flocked to Trump from the moment he entered the race in June 2015. With the exception of two months during Fall 2015, he led all GOP candidates among self-proclaimed white evangelical voters.
When Trump entered the race, evangelicals were leaning heavily toward Ben Carson and Scott Walker, but by July 2015 Trump had taken the lead among these values voters. As Bump points out, this was precisely the time when Trump was scaring voters by talking about Mexican immigrants crossing the border and raping and killing American citizens.
Trump held his ground with white evangelicals through the summer before he was passed in September and October by Carson. It is hard to fully understand why Carson surged among evangelicals during these months, but it is worth mentioning that during these two months the former brain surgeon:
- Said a Muslim could not be POTUS
- Said the U.S. should not accept refugees fleeing Syria
- Indirectly compared Obama’s America to Hitler’s Germany
- Said that the Holocaust could have been prevented if Jews had guns
- Offended the LGBT community
- Said that freedom came from God and compared himself to the founding fathers
- Said that racism is propagated by progressive
The surge did not last. By the end of October 2015, Trump has recaptured his lead among evangelicals. On October 28, he trashed Carson’s 7th Day Adventist faith. By December, media outlets were questioning details of Carson’s life story and his ability to handle foreign-policy issues in the wake of the Paris shootings. Carson was done. By the second week of December, Ted Cruz had passed him among evangelical GOP voters.
Read Bump’s piece here. It would have been nice if Bump included Marco Rubio’s support among white evangelicals in his analysis.