Former President Donald Trump still commands the support of a significant share of conservative Christian voters, Reuters interviews with evangelical leaders and opinion polls show, but a window of opportunity remains for a challenger to peel some of that support away.
Evangelical voters are key to winning Iowa, which holds the first the presidential nominating contest of the 2024 election early next year, and other Republican early-voting states such as South Carolina.
The stakes are high. Strong evangelical support early in the Republican primary could give a challenger a chance to strike a blow against Trump, the front-runner for the nomination, and slow his momentum.
But Trump, who has been divorced twice and is now under indictment as part of an alleged scheme to pay hush money to a porn star, has shown resilience with evangelicals, who credit him for a series of conservative policy victories including the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning federal abortion protections.
Trump won 76% of the white evangelical vote in 2020, down from 80% in 2016, according to Edison Research exit polls. About one-third of U.S. adults identify as born-again or evangelical Christians, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll in November 2020.
Trump seems to be gaining ground with evangelicals, according to national polling by Monmouth University. In a March poll, Trump edged DeSantis among evangelicals in a two-way matchup 51% to 42%, a nine-point improvement for Trump from the month before.