As the 2020 election heats up, many eyes are on evangelicals, who make up the country’s most reliable voting bloc and clinched the victory for President Donald Trump in 2016. While Trump has had what we might charitably call a “rocky” first term, white evangelicals are still expected to show up for him next November.
But new research from LifeWay gives a fresh glimpse into evangelical policy priorities for 2020, and they throw some commonly accepted assumptions into doubt.
For starters, the top priority for evangelicals — like most Americans — is healthcare. A full 51 percent of evangelicals listed it as one of their top three issues for 2020. Just below it at 46 percent is the economy, with national security a distant third at 40 percent.
Abortion is often considered to be the lynchpin of the white evangelical vote, but this study ranked it at sixth place, behind things like religious liberty (33 percent) and immigration (39 percent). Below it are “providing for the needy” (22 percent), addressing racial division (21 percent) and LGBTQ rights (four percent).
51 percent of those with evangelical beliefs say they would only support a candidate who pledged to outlaw abortion. That’s a majority, but it’s less than other “deal-breaker” issues. For example, 67 percent said they would only consider a candidate committed to “fighting racial injustice” and 71 percent insisted their candidate must pledge to “fight poverty”. A full 85 percent of evangelicals said their candidate in 2020 must demonstrate “personal integrity” which …well, OK.
There are also some interesting numbers around how the Bible comes into play. 80 percent of evangelicals say the Bible informs their political opinions and about the same number say they “look to biblical principles when evaluating political issues.” However, only 37 percent say they’ve ever had to change a political opinion to line up with what the Bible says.