Donald Trump Scolds Evangelical Voters – One Of His Most Loyal Groups of Supporters – as ‘Disloyal’: Republicans who win the White House have a difficult balancing act to execute and it is not just attracting Independents and new voters to the campaign.
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They must first win the battle of the base.
This means herding a disparate group of coalitions together under one Republican banner.
These conservative groups – from the pro-business wing of the party and those who engage in culture wars, populists, moderates, libertarians, Reagan Republicans, and Conservative Christians – must form a mind meld and show up to vote in high numbers.
Evangelical Support Is Critical for GOP Presidents
This has worked for Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump – less so for John McCain and Mitt Romney.
One group that is usually loyal is evangelical Christians, but if they sense weakness or trepidation on candidates who don’t toe the line on social issues, they can stay home and not vote.
Donald Trump: I’ll Get You Judges and Religious Liberty
Trump kept evangelicals in line by promising to elect judges who are pro-life and those who exhibit support for religious liberty.
Trump was able to attract these voters to his campaign in 2016 and 2020, but that hold on the Christian coalition faltered in 2022.
This immensely frustrated Trump, and he has charged them with “disloyalty.” That is a colossal mistake that could come back to haunt him.
2024 Will Be Different
The midterm elections did not go well for Trump, and he is casting blame without taking responsibility for his questionable candidate choices.
New faces have entered the picture, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and familiar Christians like Mike Pence. This has evangelical leaders holding back and withholding support from Trump until they see how the field for 2024 develops.
Now Trump Sees Conservative Christians as Disloyal
This state of affairs has been shocking for Donald Trump. When asked about the message being sent by evangelicals in the 2024 race Trump had fighting words.
“Well, I don’t really care. That’s a sign of disloyalty. There’s great disloyalty in the world of politics.”
He may say he doesn’t care, but he will have to care to win the presidential primary.
Trump is always sensitive about those he thinks have crossed him. Trump believes that Christian voters owe him a big favor for creating a right-leaning environment on the Supreme Court after nominating three Conservative justices who helped turn over Roe v. Wade, something pro-lifers have dreamed about for decades.
Get a New Candidate
This has not turned into complete loyalty to Trump for 2024.
Last year, the Washington Post asked Republican voters if Trump should run again, 43 percent of evangelicals said someone else.
2016 and 2020 Were High Water Marks for Trump’s Evangelical Support
In 2016 and 2020, Trump had corralled evangelical voters to a great extent. The Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of Christian voters supported Trump in 2016 and 84 percent did so in 2020.
How Did Donald Trump Do It?
This support has always dumbfounded me. Trump is not a practicing, observant Christian like Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. We all know he is no saint.
I can’t recall a time during his presidency when he went to church of his own volition. To be fair to Trump, he has claimed to be Presbyterian and non-denominational, and he has “visited” churches to speak to faith leaders.
But despite some religious shortcomings, evangelicals calculated that he would drown out secular Democrats who Christian voters believed had an anti-religious agenda.
New Election New Faces Who Can Draw Christian Support
This presidential election cycle will be different for Donald Trump. He thought running early would clear out the field. He thought the race would be over without having to adjust his policy stances. While no other competition has officially emerged yet, new Republican presidential candidates will announce and start their campaigns beginning in March or April.
They will also make pleas for evangelical support in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
Trump will have to work hard for their support once again and he better care or they will latch on to another candidate who exhibits more passion for Christian values.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.