More white evangelical voters back Trump than Romney

Story highlights

  • 78% of white evangelical voters say they would vote for Trump
  • The poll shows that a major factor in evangelicals choosing Trump is their opposition to Clinton

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump is currently winning more of the white evangelical vote than 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday.

Trump -- a Presbyterian who has been married three times and has said he has never sought forgiveness from God -- is hardly a prototypical candidate for evangelicals, and Romney, a Mormon, also faced questions about the authenticity of his Christian faith.
    But if the election were held today, 78% of white evangelical registered voters say they would vote for Trump, including about a third who "strongly" back his campaign. That number is higher than the 73% of white evangelicals who supported Romney at a similar point during the 2012 election.
    However, 55% of white evangelical voters say they are dissatisfied with the choice of presidential candidates, with 42% saying it will be difficult to choose between Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton because neither one would make a good president. Still, 93% of Republican and Republican-leaning white evangelical voters would choose Trump over Clinton if the election were held today.
    The poll shows that a major factor in evangelicals choosing Trump is their opposition to Clinton. More white evangelicals -- 45% -- are choosing Trump in a vote against Clinton as opposed to the 30% who are for Trump.
    While a significant percentage -- 44% -- of white evangelical Republicans viewed Trump as "not too" or "not at all" religious in a January Pew poll, more than 6 in 10 believe Trump understands their needs "very" or "fairly" well. Only 24% believe this about Clinton.
    Evangelical support for Trump over Clinton isn't limited to the socially conservative issues of abortion and marriage. Evangelicals overwhelmingly prefer Trump on issues related to gun policy, the economy, terrorism and immigration.
    White evangelical Protestants represent one-fifth of all registered voters in the U.S., and about one-third of all voters who say they are or lean Republican.