Republican voters like Trump despite seeing him as not religious: poll
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is seen as not as religious as other Republican candidates, but most Republicans think he could be a good president anyway, a new nationwide poll found on Wednesday.
A Pew Research Center poll found just 44 percent of Republican voters thought that Trump, who identifies as Presbyterian, was very or somewhat religious.
Another 24 percent found the thrice-married real estate tycoon not too religious, and 23 percent found him not religious at all.
The poll also found that 56 percent of Republican voters thought Trump would be a good or great president, even though voters view being religious as an asset for U.S. presidential candidates, especially for Republicans.
In contrast, 80 percent of Republican voters found contender Ben Carson, a Seventh-Day Adventist, very or somewhat religious, while 76 percent found that about U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Southern Baptist. He is running second to Trump in recent polls.
Only 3 percent of Republican voters found Cruz and Carson not at all religious.
The poll also found that 64 percent of Republicans consider having a president who shares their religious beliefs very or somewhat important, compared to 41 percent of Democrats.
On the Democrat side, 65 percent of Democratic voters view former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Methodist, as very or somewhat religious, while 47 percent of Democrats think that of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is Jewish.
Candidates are seen as more religious by those in their own party, the poll found. The biggest partisan gap is in the views of Hillary Clinton: only 28 percent of Republicans think Clinton is very or somewhat religious.
The survey also found the share of Americans who have reservations about voting for an atheist president has declined. In 2007, more than 60 percent of Americans said they would be less likely to support an atheist for president. That number has declined to 51 percent, the poll found.
The survey was conducted between Jan. 7 and Jan. 14 among a sample of 2009 adults in all 50 states, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent for the total sample.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)