2016 ‘Evangelical Primary’ Is Already In Motion

by PENNY NANCE, RALPH REED & JOEL C. ROSENBERG  |  published on November 20, 2014

Now that the mid-term elections are over, the political class is pivoting its attention to 2016. Most Americans aren’t yet focused on electing our next president, but make no mistake: the potential candidates are already heavily engaged in running for that job.

One sign of the early activity is that the “Evangelical Primary” is already in full swing. According to network exit polls in 2012, self-identified evangelical Christians comprised 51 percent of all the votes cast in Republican presidential preference primaries and caucuses. So no one seeking the GOP nomination in 2016 can afford to ignore this vital and dynamic constituency. There is simply no viable road to the presidency for a Republican candidate who fails to win strong support from voters of faith.

The 2014-midterm elections confirmed the persistent and enduring potency of the evangelical constituency in American politics. According to a post-election survey by Public Opinion Strategies, Christian conservatives and Evangelicals comprised 32 percent of the electorate, voting 86 percent Republican and 12 percent for Democratic candidates. They were the largest and most vibrant single voting bloc in the midterm electorate, larger than the African-American vote, Hispanic vote, union vote, and “gay” vote combined.