Document Type

Honors Project


For nearly four decades, white Evangelical Christians in the United States rallied around politicians who all fit a similar mold. This consistency was flipped on its head in 2016 when Evangelicals poured out in unprecedented levels to support Donald Trump. Despite being inconsistent with the type of candidate they have traditionally voted for, Evangelicals flocked to the polls with 81% of this group supporting Trump for the presidency. Evangelical support for Trump remained over 75% for the duration of his presidency and his reelection campaign in 2020. This shift begs the following research question: How was Donald Trump able to garner such unprecedented levels of support from Evangelical Christians despite at face value being inconsistent with the type of candidates they have favored for the better part of four decades? In this paper I use a combination of polling data and rhetorical analysis to argue that Trump garnered such high levels of support by leveraging three key themes: (1) “us versus them” framing of immigration issues, (2) fear of Christianity slipping from national prominence, and (3) belief that American society was rapidly degrading, each of which capitalized on Evangelicals’ main fear that their way of life was becoming obsolete in the US.



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