While the race for president remains too close to call nationwide, Donald Trump pulled off a comfortable victory in Texas thanks in part to overwhelming support from white evangelicals. This is according to exit polls, which showed the president winning the group by an eye-popping 73-point margin over Democratic challenger Vice President Joe Biden.
The number comes from surveys conducted outside early voting sites and polling places, and over the phone. At the time of the writing of this article, interviewers had spoken with 4,768 voters, of which nearly one-in-three identified as white evangelical or born-again Christian.
While famously not a church-goer himself, Trump has fashioned himself from the beginning as a crusader for the Christian Right, welcoming evangelical leaders into his innermost circle and declaring war on Planned Parenthood. The pact served him well, when, in 2016, an overwhelming 81% of white evangelicals cast their ballot for the thrice-married reality TV star from Queens, New York. And if Texas’ exit polls are any indication, the pattern appears to be repeating itself, with Trump winning 86% of the white evangelical vote in the exit polls.
Latinx evangelicals also likely helped power the president to a comfortable 6-point win over Biden in the state. Unlike their white counterparts, Latinx evangelicals do not view themselves as historically tied to a specific party. Neither do they vote as a single bloc. Largely socially conservative and fiscally liberal, they are swing voters without a clear political home in the two-party system. And this year, a significant number in Texas appear to have swung to Trump. The same exit polls that showed him winning white evangelicals by nearly 90% also showed the president pocketing 40% of the Latinx vote.
What portion of that 40% identify as evangelical is unclear. But researcher Gastón Espinosa, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, told Christianity Today he’s convinced “Latino evangelicals helped Trump to do better than anyone expected in Texas … and in Florida.”
These early statistics come after months of speculation about possible erosion of support for Trump among evangelicals as women and the suburbs began parting ways with Trump all across the country.