Columns Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

More than half of U.S. Mormons approve of Trump—but not among women

President Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

On Monday, the Pew Research Center released its most recent findings about Donald Trump’s approval rating among various U.S. religious groups.

The highest support comes from white evangelical Protestants, 69% of whom approve of the job Trump is doing. This represents a decline from evangelicals’ previous approval rating of 78%, but is more than a two-thirds majority.

Among Mormons, another group that has long supported Republican candidates and presidents, Trump’s overall approval rating was lower—52%—but still in majority territory. A strong plurality of 39% of Latter-day Saints disapprove of Trump, and 10% say they have no opinion.

Gregory A. Smith, Pew’s Associate Director of Research, says that when Pew aggregates all 11 approval surveys it has conducted since Trump became president (n = 316 Mormons, with a margin of error of +/- 6.5%), several interesting trends emerge.

1. Mormon men are “significantly more approving of Trump’s job performance than [Mormon] women.”

  Men Women
Approve of Trump 63% 42%
Disapprove of Trump 32% 45%
No opinion 5% 14%

There is a 21-point spread between men who approve of Trump (63%) and women who do (just 42%). Among Latter-day Saint women, a slightly higher percentage actually disapprove of Trump than approve of him. Mormon men, on the other hand, approve of the president by a margin of nearly two to one.

2. Age is a factor among Mormons, as it is in the general population.

  Over 50 Under 50
Approve of Trump 59% 46%
Disapprove of Trump 33% 43%
No opinion 8% 11%

“The differences between men and women and between older people and younger people roughly resemble patterns seen among the public as a whole,” says Smith.

In January, Pew released findings that indicated a sharp generational difference in support for Trump: nationally, 54% of Silent Generation Americans approved of the job he is doing, but only 29% of Millennials did, with Baby Boomers and GenXers falling in the middle.

3. Mormons are noticeably cooler toward Trump than toward George W. Bush, the nation’s most recent Republican president.

When Pew collected data from Mormons during the first two years of George W. Bush’s presidency, more than three-quarters approved of the job Bush was doing, compared to just over half who now approve of Trump’s performance in office.

On the other hand, Trump’s approval numbers are significantly higher than Democratic president Barack Obama received in his early tenure. Of the Latter-day Saints interviewed during the first two years of the Obama administration, a scant 28% approved of the president.

  George W. Bush, 2001–2003 (n = 582) Barack Obama, 2009–2011 (n = 673) Donald Trump, 2017–2019 (n = 316)
Approve 77% 28% 52%
Disapprove 13% 60% 39%
No opinion 10% 12% 10%

Not only has approval dropped by 25 points from Bush to Trump, but disapproval has tripled, from 13% to 39%.

 


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About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

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