Donald Trump is at a tenuous spot in his presidency.
In a new Washington Post-ABC poll, Republicans and white evangelical Protestants were the only segments of the U.S. population in which a majority said they would “definitely” support the president in 2020. Fifty-six percent of all Americans said they would definitely not support Trump if he were the GOP nominee again, the poll found.
Trump seems to recognize this, seizing on recent abortion controversies in New York and Virginia to call for a federal prohibition on late-term abortions this week and telling evangelicals on Thursday he would “never” let them down.
Despite Trump’s history of strange religious pronouncements, examples of which you can see in the video above, he won a greater share of evangelicals in 2016 than former presidents Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. Trump was the first president since George H.W. Bush to refer to the Bible in his inaugural address.
Entering Year 3, Trump has also accomplished or advocated for a number of key evangelical priorities, including:
- Appointing antiabortion judges
- Calling for a federal ban on late-term abortions
- Calling for a repeal of the Johnson Amendment that forbids churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates
- Trying to restrict abortions at facilities receiving federal funds
- Funding abstinence programs
- Promising to help religious adoption agencies
- Praising Bible literacy classes
- Encouraging people to say “Merry Christmas” again
It is perhaps ironic that a thrice-married man who rarely attends church, has bragged about sexually assaulting women and admitted to watching celebrity sex tapes is now relying on conservative evangelicals to reelect him in 2020, but it was a paradox Trump himself identified in 2011.
“You can’t get so caught up on social issues and then put somebody who’s wonderful socially but is going to get decimated by Barack Obama,” Trump said then of evangelical leaders “intrigued” by his potential candidacy. “It’s wonderful to say, ‘Hey, this one is perfect in every way, goes to church every morning — forget about Sundays — like, every morning, he’s so perfect — but he’s going to lose the election.’ That doesn’t help.”
Scott Clement contributed to this report.