Some Evangelical Voters Aren’t Sold On Trump. Will That Help DeSantis?

Daniel A. Cox, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux May 18, 2023

Former President Donald Trump spoke via video to attendees of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kick-Off on April 22. Data suggests Trump is weaker among college-educated white evangelical voters than he was in his 2016 campaign. SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES


The issue of abortion could be one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest weaknesses in the Republican primary — and Ron DeSantis is trying to take advantage of it. “He won’t answer whether he would sign it or not,” the governor of Florida said on Tuesday, referring to a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. As recently as last week, Trump was noncommittal about what kind of abortion restrictions he would support, and claimed in an interview on Monday that “many people in the pro-life movement” think a six-week ban — which DeSantis himself signed in April — is “too harsh.”

In the months since the 2022 midterm elections, where Republicans generally underperformed, Trump has been clear that he thinks the GOP’s hardline stance on abortion bans is responsible. But that’s putting him in a tricky position with white evangelical Protestants — a cornerstone of the Republican base that was central to his election in 2016 — and potentially opening up an opportunity for another GOP candidate to siphon religious conservative votes away from Trump. After Trump’s comments about the six-week ban, an influential anti-abortion activist said on Twitter that he was “abandoning pro-life voters.” In response, Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats tweeted that the Iowa caucuses were “wide open.”

Recent polling underscores that Trump may have to work to regain some evangelicals’ support, although he may already be making inroads.

Read More on FiveThirtyEight

Survey Reports

Cartoon rendering of a series of different online dating app prospects, on phone screens

Daniel A. Cox
February 9, 2023

From Swiping to Sexting: The Enduring Gender Divide in American Dating and Relationships

The January 2023 American Perspectives Survey sheds some light on dating preferences, experiences, and perspectives. The national survey of more than 5,000 adults age 18 and older, including nearly 800 single adults, finds that Americans have strong dating preferences when it comes to living at home, being unemployed, and smoking.

Red leather-bound Qur'an on a wooden table with prayer beads and a light blue surgical mask draped over top.

Lindsey Witt-Swanson, Jennifer Benz, Daniel A. Cox
January 5, 2023

Faith After the Pandemic: How COVID-19 Changed American Religion

The Survey Center on American Life at AEI teamed up with researchers at NORC at the University of Chicago to measure religious affiliation and attendance both before the pandemic (2018 to March 2020) and again in spring 2022, revealing who remained at the pews, who returned to the pews, and who left.

A cartoon showing a vibrant office from the ceiling view.

Brent Orrell, Daniel A. Cox, Jessie Wall
October 25, 2022

The Social Workplace: Social Capital, Human Dignity, and Work in America

Over the past two decades, American social and civic life has been on an undeniable downward trajectory. New research finds that the workplace remains an increasingly important generator of social capital in the wake of this civic contraction.

Photograph of pro-choice protestors holding signs

Karlyn Bowman, Daniel A. Cox
October 4, 2022

Gender, Generation and Abortion: Shifting Politics and Perspectives After Roe

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion continues to garner widespread public attention. Young women are following the debate over abortion rights closely and more intensely than other Americans. How will it affect their vote in the upcoming election and their approach to politics?