Trump indictment over Stormy Daniels will have 'little impact' on his evangelical Christian base: expert
Trump evangelical supporters (Photo by Jim Watson for AFP)

If Donald Trump is indicted in connection with his $130,000 hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, don’t expect it to move the needle at all with white Christian conservatives who formerly concerned themselves with morality.

That’s the view of Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute and an expert on the religious right. Citing a long history of statistics showing that Trump’s numerous scandals either raised his support among white Evangelicals or didn’t cause it to drop, Jones predicted that even as lurid an example as this one won’t matter at all.

As we anticipate the potential indictment of a former president, the data suggests that even such an unprecedented event would have little impact on the support for Trump by white evangelical Protestants and other conservative white Christians,” Jones wrote on his Substack #WhiteTooLong.

Jones cited numerous examples of “the unwavering support of Trump by these former “values voters” across Trump’s presidency, despite numerous well-known episodes of lewd, bigoted and unethical behavior.” He cited this as Exhibit A:

“On a hot mic, Trump brags about forcibly kissing and groping women, declaring, “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…. Grab them by the p—y, you can do anything.” Between September 2016, before the tape is released, and 2017, Trump’s favorability among white evangelical Protestants climbs 12 points, from 61% to 73%.”

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Trump’s favorability remained at that 73% level even in the wake of the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville and Trump’s statement that there were “very fine people on both sides,” Jones writes. The same held true after the Wall Street Journal broke the Stormy Daniels scandal in 2018 and after Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, he notes.

“By the fall of 2021, after losing the election, inciting an insurrection and becoming the first U.S. president in history to be impeached for a second time, his favorability finally drops among white evangelical Protestants — but only 7 percentage points to 67%. By the fall of 2022, Trump’s favorability among white evangelical Protestants dips modestly to 63%, but his popularity remains comparable to this same point in his 2016 campaign.”

Jones concludes, “As has been the case since Trump’s emergence as a national political figure in 2015, any excuse to deny the obvious will do. An indictment — particularly by a district attorney who is a Black Democrat from Manhattan whom Trump has already derided as a politically motivated “racist” — is likely to reconfirm their perception of a world upside-down and strengthen their allegiance to Trump.”