The exit polls tell a surprising story. Trump received 81 percent of the white evangelical Christian vote and Hillary Clinton took but 16 percent. What is surprising is that Trump did far better than the squeakly clean and religious Mitt Romney or the "I am one of you" evangelical George W. Bush. This fellow not known for his morality also over-performed among other theologically conservative voters, everyone from traditionalist Catholics to Pentecostals!. This is no small achievement for a fellow married three times, an admitted adulterer, who said he was not sure he had ever asked God to forgive him of anything! So why would these support a candidate so different from them and their values?
Some are suggesting that the most logical answer is that they felt that their religious liberty was under assault from the liberal establishment. They had to vote for the only candidate who appeared willing both to respect and support religious freedom. According to Sean Trende of RealClear Politics noted, since 2012:
Democrats and liberals have: booed the inclusion of God in their platform at the 2012 convention (this is disputed, but it is the perception); endorsed a regulation that would allow transgendered students to use the bathroom and locker room corresponding to their identity; attempted to force small businesses to cover drugs they believe induce abortions; attempted to force nuns to provide contraceptive coverage; forced Brendan Eich to step down as chief executive officer of Mozilla due to his opposition to marriage equality; fined a small Christian bakery over $140,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding; vigorously opposed a law in Indiana that would provide protections against similar regulations – despite having overwhelmingly supported similar laws when they protected Native American religious rights – and then scoured the Indiana countryside trying to find a business that would be affected by the law before settling upon a small pizza place in the middle of nowhere and harassing the owners. In 2015, the United States solicitor general suggested that churches might lose their tax exempt status if they refused to perform same-sex marriages. In 2016, the Democratic nominee endorsed repealing the Hyde Amendment, thereby endorsing federal funding for elective abortions.Perhaps the chickens have come home to roost. Obama was quick to castigate those who clung their guns and religion when cultural change threatened and Clinton was quick to condemn Trump's supports as "deplorables" who should neither be tolerated or supported. What both did not realize is that they that they were by policy as well as words marginalizing both Evangelicals and traditional Christian groups against the impingement of religious freedom in the name of cultural progress and trendy social advocacy. Over and over again it appeared the Democrats felt the biggest threat to America was bathroom restrictions while Americans felt more and more threats to their faith and to their ability to express that faith within the public square without intimidation or consequence. It is certainly all the more surprising since both Obama and Clinton claim more than Christian roots, they claim to be active professing Christians (perhaps even more than could generously be assigned to Trump).
Democrats went from being the party of the working class to the party of the cultural elites whose positions threatened this very working class and their most sacred values of faith and morality. If these were not to be tolerated, they had little choice but to vote for someone who promised not to tread upon this religious liberty.
Sounds good. It is the real reason for the election of Trump? I could not say. It is certainly one of many. Whether the cultural and political elites in America have awoken to the reality of the fears of ordinary Americans is an unfolding story. We will see. The more marginalized these ordinary Americans feel, the more shots across the bow they are likely to lob in an effort to allow their point of view to be heard. This, after all, is the very purpose of democracy.