In 2016, Vote More Anti-Clinton Than Pro-Trump Among the Religious

It turns out Tucker Carlson was right and Rush Limbaugh was wrong.

By Paul Cameron & Kirk Cameron Published on September 19, 2017

Conservative commentators hail Trump for embracing Rush Limbaugh, or dog him for not fulfilling his campaign promises. Hillary is now on tour explaining how the Russians (!) tilted the election against her. Also, how she goofed by not hawking a list of things she would do for workers.

But a new poll from the heart of American Evangelicalism indicates that twice as many Trump supporters voted “against Clinton” rather than “for Trump.” This tends to validate Tucker Carlson’s prediction that Trump would win. Not so much because people liked him (often quite the opposite), but for the issues he raised. And because of Hillary’s “contempt for the middle of the country and those “deplorables.” In this election, religion — not age, sex, or other “identities” — was the strongest influence on voters.

“Against” More Than “For”

Unlike most polls, where kind of religion is emphasized, we asked voters in Colorado Springs if they were “not religious” (18 percent), “somewhat religious” (24 percent), “religious” (28 percent) or “very religious” (29 percent). Similar to the nation, almost a fifth of voters were not religious. Also, men (51 percent said they were “not” or “somewhat” vs. 33 percent of women), Democrats (70 percent were “not” or “somewhat” vs. 22 percent of Republicans), and the younger (52 percent of voters under age 36 vs. 40 percent of the older) were less religious. The “not” or “somewhat” evenly split their vote, while 85 percent of the religious/very religious voted for Trump. This religious divide between the parties jibes with the WSJ/NBC News survey (9/6/17) in which Democrats were twice as likely to say they never go to church.

No major religion embraces homosexuality. But Clinton indicated she would champion LBGT issues as much or even more than Obama. Her unlimited support of abortion was also at odds with religious belief. Our results suggest that religion was a key variable. Clinton making appeals to the working class would have had little impact on the outcome.

Of 274 voters polled by Family Research Institute at malls and restaurants within two miles of Focus on the Family, 67 percent pulled the lever for Trump “mainly because I didn’t want Clinton,” while only 33 percent because “I liked Trump better.” Men and women Trump supporters said the same thing. On the other side, Clinton voters were more divided but still voted against rather than for. They broke 54 percent “because I didn’t want Trump” to 45 percent “because I liked Clinton better.” Men who voted for Clinton were more likely (70 percent) than women (38 percent) to say it was mainly about stopping Trump.

Table 1 Survey Demographics - 900

Feelings on Gay Rights, Islam Translated Into Votes

Evangelical leaders decry the impact of “gay rights” on religious freedom. They point to Christian bakers, clerks, florists, etc. being persecuted for living out their Christian faith. Yet, less than half (41 percent) of the religious or very religious said gay rights had reduced their freedoms. Only eight percent of the “not religious” felt the same. In the WSJ/NBC poll, 42 percent of Republicans vs. 17 percent of Democrats supported the “traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman.”

The age-old conflict between Christianity and Islam was also reflected in our survey. Fifty-four percent of the religious or very religious agreed with Trump’s temporary Muslim ban. The “not religious” were 3:1 against it. In the WSJ/NBC poll, twice as many Democrats said immigration “strengthened the U.S.”

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These positions translated into votes. Only 8 percent of those who said gay rights had reduced their freedoms pulled the lever for Hillary. Ninety-two percent polled for Trump. Fifty-seven percent of the latter group also said they voted primarily “against Clinton.” On the Muslim ban, those in favor voted 97 percent/3 percent for Trump. But again, 58 percent of those supporters said it was mainly about stopping Hillary. Men and younger voters were more likely to be less or not religious, and to have voted for Hillary. Younger voters (aged 18-35) were less apt to feel crimped by gay rights (19 percent vs. 39 percent older) or agree with Trump’s Muslim ban (27 percent vs. 63 percent older).

Religion, “Against” Vote Major Factor in 2016

Our survey, conducted July 2017, suggests the religious “against vote” carried the day. We say this because the other demographic categories only differed slightly in their voting. The sample was small and from heavily Republican Colorado Springs. But the demographic profile was in general agreement with other post-election surveys. It suggests other polls may have missed the importance of (1) religion and (2) voting against a candidate in electing Trump.

How long the sway of the religious will hold is unknown. The proportion of “not religious” at about a fifth of the U.S. is up from 8 percent in 1980 (Miller, p. 280). It also stands in contrast to the 53 percent of Brits who say the same (up from 31 percent in 1983). In both countries, the proportion of those saying they are not religious is rising, especially among those under the age of 35. Most of the old in both nations say they are religious.

Nonetheless, many vote against, rather than for, and in this election, the “against” carried the day. Given a deeply divided electorate, the religious apparently did not want “Obama,” round three.


Family Research Institute is a conservative think-tank. It does original research on issues of sexuality and substance abuse. It is one of the 52 groups denounced as an anti-LGBT “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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