Nov 8, 2016

From the Archives

Highlights of Barna’s 2016 Election Coverage

The 2016 Presidential Campaign has been a long and tumultuous road, but we’re finally in the home stretch. Since February, Barna has been chronicling the opinions and attitudes of the American public toward this historic campaign, so in honor of Election Day, here’s a recap of our coverage:

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In February, we looked at the role of faith as a focal point of the 2016 presidential election, specifically how the five unique personal faith segments in America—evangelicals, non-evangelical born again Christian, notional Christians, people associated with non-Christian faiths, and religious skeptics—held substantially different attitudes and candidate preferences.

In March, we found that surprisingly few voters were closely following the primary process. Contrary to past election cycles, evangelical Christians were actually the faith group least engaged with the presidential race, despite the fact they were the religious segment most likely to characterize the outcome of this year’s presidential election as extremely important to the future of the United States.

Also in March, we discovered that many Americans believed the bible is the key to better politics. In partnership with American Bible Society, we found that half of American adults said politics would be more civil if politicians engaged in regular Bible reading.

In April, the consensus was that issue positions were the single most important reason American adults were choosing a candidate. Issue positions were named as the most important influence nearly three times as often as the next highest-rated influences, which included leadership qualities and a candidate’s experience and track record.

Our study in May revealed how most American registered voters were displeased with the status quo. A vast majority indicated they believed the United States was headed in the wrong direction and were frustrated with the federal government. Voters also displayed some of the lowest approval ratings for the two presumptive party nominees: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

After Clinton and Trump secured their respective party nominations, Barna ran another major poll in October, which examined the faith and ideology of their supporters. Trump won over the majority of right leaning faith segments and other conservative lifestyle segments, while Clinton won over less religious groups, and more liberal lifestyle segments.

Another key piece in October identified which candidate was seen as having more of the qualities expected of a president. Looking at qualities like “presidential,” “respected by other leaders,” “able to work with people who have different views” and “effective communicator,” Hillary Clinton was more likely than Donald Trump to be associated with six of the eight qualities examined.

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Later in October, another piece revealed how religious beliefs are the most likely influence on who people will vote for in this year’s presidential contest. Among other influences like family members, news media, and friends, the lowest overall ranked influence is the pastor of the respondent’s church. However, pastors were the second highest influence among evangelical voters.

The most recent piece, published in December, looks at the strong evangelical turnout for Trump. It also uncovers the faith segment responsible for the highest absolute number of absolute votes: notional Christians, at a staggering 58 million. And finally, this piece also examines the allegiance of each faith group to the two main-party candidates.

About Barna

Since 1984, Barna Group has conducted more than two million interviews over the course of thousands of studies and has become a go-to source for insights about faith, culture, leadership, vocation and generations. Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization.

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