Here is a question I got asked a lot this week: “Do you think the recent Supreme Court decision will hurt Trump’s support among his white evangelical base?”
My answer: “I don’t think so, but…”
Let me explain.
Many white evangelicals are disappointed with Neil Gorsuch for his majority opinion in the recent LGBTQ Civil Rights case. If they are disappointed with Trump for appointing Gorusch, they are not saying anything.
But very few evangelicals have abandoned the Christian Right political playbook. This playbook teaches white evangelicals that electing a president who will stack the federal courts with conservative justices is the best way to reclaim “Christian America.” Trump has executed this playbook well and most white evangelicals are willing to give him another “mulligan” on Gorsuch.
Moreover, most white evangelicals still believe Gorsuch will deliver for them if he gets a chance to rule on an abortion case. So what happened in the Supreme Court on Monday will not move the needle a great deal in November.
I prefer to see the recent SCOTUS case on LGBTQ rights in the larger context of 2020. Some evangelicals (but not many) thought Trump was guilty and should have been removed from office during the impeachment trial. Some evangelicals (but not many) thought Trump mishandled the pandemic. Some evangelicals (but not many) believe Trump is failing to adequately address racism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Some evangelicals (but not many) thought the Bible photo-op was wrong.
All of these things, when taken together, just might peel enough votes from Trump to give Biden the victory. Trump needs another 81% in 2020 and I don’t think he will get it. Perhaps he will get 70%, but that won’t be enough in such a tight race. If a small percentage of white evangelicals change their votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina, Joe Biden will the 46th president.