LifeWay Research recently asked a sample of pastors, “Overall, how would you rate the job performance of President Trump?” Just over half (51 percent) of respondents said they approved of the President’s performance, but a sizable group (20 percent) are unsure how to answer that question.
“There is no lack of information on what President Trump is doing or how he is doing it,” said LifeWay Research executive director Scott McConnell, “so the undecided posture appears to be an unwillingness to identify with either of the political sides that have emerged in American politics.”
The following categories were used to drill down into the surveys to determine trends:
Additionally, LifeWay asked the respondents to self-identify according to these categories:
Which Groups Are More Likely to Approve of President Trump? Disapprove?
Those more likely to approve (50 percent or more saying they approve) of the President, are as follows:
Pastors in the South (55 percent) and West (57 percent)
Male pastors (56 percent)
Pastors with no college degree (71 percent), a Bachelor’s degree (67 percent), or a Doctoral degree (52 percent)
Evangelical pastors (63 percent)
Of the evangelical pastors: Pentecostals (86 percent) and Baptists (68 percent)
One mainline denomination: Christian/Church of Christ (55 percent)
Those less likely to approve (less than 50 percent approval rate) of the President fell in these categories:
Pastors of churches with attendance of 0-49 people (42 percent)
Pastors in the Northeast (40 percent)
Female pastors (30 percent)
Pastors age 18-44 (41 percent)
African American pastors (4 percent)
Pastors with a Masters degree (41 percent)
Mainline Pastors (41 percent)
Of the Mainline pastors: Lutherans (41 percent), Presbyterian/Reformed (28 percent), Methodists (25 percent)
Besides splitting respondents into approve and disapprove categories, the survey also gave the following response options: strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, strongly disapprove and not sure.
Combining the “Strongly approve” and “Somewhat approve” responses garners a 51 percent approval rating, while combining the “Somewhat disapprove” and “Strongly disapprove” responses garners a 29 percent disapproval rating.
The demographic most uncertain about the President’s performance was pastors ages 18-44. A quarter of this group responded not sure, compared to only 18 percent of pastors ages 55-64 responded that way and 16 percent of those 65+.
African American pastors were most likely to disapprove of the President (85 percent), and with only 4 percent of African American pastors approving of him, that means that roughly 11 percent are not sure.
President Trump’s Approval Ratings Compared to President Obama’s
McConnell also gave some information about President Trump’s approval rating among pastors halfway into his first term compared to his predecessor President Obama. “Compared to the middle of President Obama’s first term, we see twice as many pastors say they’re undecided on President Trump’s job performance,” McConnell said. In a similar survey conducted in 2010, 9 percent of pastors said they were uncertain of President Obama’s performance, compared to 20 percent of respondents today concerning President Trump.
However, President Trump’s overall approval rating of 51 percent among pastors today stands in contrast to President Obama’s 30 percent in 2010. Perhaps even more telling is President Trump’s disapproval rating among pastors (29 percent) compared to President Obama’s 61 percent.
The survey was conducted over the phone with 1,000 Protestant pastors between the dates August 29 and September 11, 2018.