Former Vice President Mike Pence is courting the religious vote, which has become increasingly important to the GOP. While white evangelicals or born-again Christians make up a relatively small percentage of the population at just 14.5%, they account for a larger share of the electorate.
In 2020, white evangelicals or born-again Christians made up 28% of voters, down slightly from 31% in 2021. They also voted overwhelmingly Republican.
While former President Donald Trump lost some support from the voting bloc in 2020, 76% of these voters still cast their ballot for him.
That significant lean toward Republicans sets this group aside from other religious blocs, such as mainline Protestants, who are nearly evenly split between Democrat and Republican, or historically Black denominations, which lean heavily toward Democrats.
Evangelicals are also overrepresented in critical swing states such as North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, where the percentage of the population identifying as evangelicals is higher than among the national population.
For Republicans hoping to get back into the White House, evangelicals are a key group of voters. It’s also one that has increasingly defined the GOP’s platform in recent decades, especially when it comes to social issues, most notably abortion.
Polling from PRRI in 2020 found that white evangelicals listed their top three political concerns as abortion, fairness of presidential elections and terrorism, making them outliers on the political-religious landscape. No other groups listed abortion or terrorism as top priorities.
While the question of election fairness was considered a priority among many religious groups, white evangelicals also stood out as the only group to say the coronavirus pandemic was not a top issue. Health care and jobs and employment also ranked higher among other religious groups.
While many GOP hopefuls such as Pence will court the white evangelical vote, the party will also have to grapple with how to balance the top concerns of those voters with the priorities of the independent and moderate voters they will also need to win the presidency.