Transitioning from one job to another is usually a bit rocky. With intense media scrutiny and half the country rooting against him, not to mention championing a substantial change in political ideology away from the policies of Barack Obama, the move from businessman to President was certainly not going to be an easy shift for Donald Trump. But during the initial month after the shocking election results were announced things have gone more smoothly than many people expected.
Research from a national survey by the American Culture & Faith Institute among SAGE Cons – Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservatives – indicates one reason why things may be progressing more smoothly than was anticipated.
Without a doubt, SAGE Cons were the voting segment most supportive of Donald Trump. An Election Day survey by ACFI showed that 93% of SAGE Cons voted for the New York billionaire. Although he was only the fifth most popular choice among SAGE Cons during the early primary season, and many of these devoutly Christian voters maintained concerns about his character, they deemed him the only viable choice in his race against long-time political progressive Hillary Clinton and several other candidates.
Trump’s victory, however, came as a big surprise to most SAGE Cons. Despite their near-unanimous preference, six out of ten of these Christian conservatives (59%) were expecting Hillary Clinton to win.
Multiple Reasons for Their Preference
The ACFI survey explored how SAGE Cons, regardless of which candidate they supported, felt about the potential of Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. In a series of questions that assessed critical attributes brought to the presidency by each of the two candidates, the results showed that SAGE Cons overwhelmingly believed that the GOP nominee would bring more to the table than his Democratic challenger.
The following list shows how lopsided the opinions of SAGE Cons were in their comparison of Trump and Clinton.
- All but a few (95%) said Trump would do a better job at creating new, non-government jobs.
- Although Mrs. Clinton had years of experience in the U.S. Senate and as Secretary of State, 94% said Trump was more likely to “keep America safe and militarily strong.”
- The election was partially a referendum on whether people wanted the political status quo to remain intact. SAGE Cons voted resoundingly for change, with 90% of them concurring that Donald Trump was more likely to “bring about the change the political system needs.”
- After years of political gridlock, Christian conservatives were eager to see some results out of Washington, D.C. They determined that Trump was the man to facilitate it, as 86% said he was more likely than Clinton to “get things done.” Overall, 1% of the SAGE Cons associated Mrs. Clinton with this ability.
- The hallmark of a great leader is to unite people around a vision for the future. While not everyone in America was enthusiastic about Trump’s vision, SAGE Cons were: 78% felt he had “a clear and compelling vision for the country” while only 2% said the same about Hillary Clinton.
- The presidency is about providing leadership, and three-quarters of the SAGE Cons (75%) said that Trump was “a strong and decisive leader.” Only 2% said Hillary Clinton better fit that description.
- Seven out of ten SAGE Cons (71%) said Mr. Trump was the candidate who “really cares about people like you.” Only 2% attributed that quality to Mrs. Clinton.
- Nearly two out of three Christian conservatives (64%) said that the GOP candidate was better described as “honest and trustworthy” than was the Democratic candidate. Only 1% said Mrs. Clinton was the one with higher integrity.
- In anticipation of the long road to America’s emotional recovery after a bruising campaign, 63% of SAGE Cons believed that Mr. Trump was the competitor more likely to “unite and heal the country.”
- A small majority of Christian conservatives (53%) believed that Mr. Trump was the candidate with “the temperament to be an effective president.” Only 6% selected Mrs. Clinton. Many others said neither of them had the ideal temperament for the job.
The research also pointed out that despite their confidence that Donald Trump was better suited to be president than Mrs. Clinton, they maintained some doubts about him. For instance, nearly six out of ten SAGE Cons (57%) said that neither Trump nor Clinton were people they respected and admired. Clearly, they are hoping and praying that he earns their respect and admiration through his performance in the White House.
About the Research
The research described in this report is part of the RightView™ longitudinal survey, a national study undertaken among spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives who are registered voters – a segment known as SAGE Cons. The survey undertaken for this report had sample size of 2,000 qualified adults and was conducted online by the American Culture & Faith Institute on the night of November 8, 2016.
In RightView™ studies SAGE Cons are identified as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They represent about 12% of the national adult population, which constitutes a segment of approximately 30 million individuals.
The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians related to the political process, in ways that are consistent with the gospel of Christ. The organization does not support or promote individual candidates or political parties.
Additional information about this study and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at www.culturefaith.com. To receive a free copy of these newsletters, visit the website and register for the SAGE Con Weekly newsletter. First published December 7, 2016.