Washington, June 28 (IANS) The religious right in the US is more positive about presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump than it was a few months ago, a Gallup poll has found.
The poll on Monday also found that this important voting bloc still remains lukewarm about the candidate as the brash billionaire sought the support of evangelicals last week, Xinhua news agency reported.
They remain lukewarm about him, a trend that sits in sharp contrast to the group’s support of former Trump rival Senator Ted Cruz, who generated significant support among evangelicals, Gallup found.
Gallup classifies Americans as highly religious, moderately religious or not religious, based on their self-reports of whether religion is important to them and how frequently they attend religious services.
The poll comes at a time when Trump has defied experts’ expectations and galvanised support among rank and file Republicans in a way not seen in perhaps decades.
But at the same time, the candidate is very unpopular with independent voters, in an election that may well be determined by those not tied to either party.
Trump clearly considers evangelicals to be an important target for his presidential campaign.
Last week, he met nearly 1,000 Christian evangelical leaders in New York, with the presumed objective of shoring up his support and, ultimately, increasing turnout among that group.
He released a photo of himself and a major Christian conservative leader; took a swipe at his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s religiousness and appointed an evangelical advisory board.
Based on personality, history and other factors, it’s not clear whether Trump will ever generate the type of differentially strong appeal among evangelicals as was the case for Cruz.
But, in terms of sheer numbers alone — 54 per cent of white Protestant Republicans are highly religious — if there is a way for Trump to increase his image and support among this group, it would appear to have significant upside potential for his campaign, Gallup said.