World Magazine has surveyed evangelical leaders and insiders on the presidential candidate they are supporting. The big winner: Marco Rubio. Not the overtly evangelical Mike Huckabee. Not Rand Paul. And certainly not Donald Trump.
From J. C. Derrick, WORLD | Who do evangelical insiders favor in 2016? | J.C. Derrick | July 30, 2015:
Good news for Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and Carly Fiorina. Mixed news for Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. Bad news for Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson. And if anyone thought Donald Trump or Chris Christie were picking up support from evangelical leaders, pop that bubble.
Those are the findings from a survey of nearly 100 evangelical leaders and insiders. Numerous 2016 GOP candidates have identified evangelicals as a key part of their road to the White House, so WORLD, the leading evangelical news magazine, recently asked 103 evangelical leaders and insiders to see whom they prefer. Ninety-four responded. . . .
WORLD’s first snapshot shows 39 percent of respondents naming Rubio as either their first or second choice. Bush ranked second as the first or second option for 32 percent of respondents. Walker came in third at 28 percent. But when asked to choose their favorite from among the top four GOP candidates in current polls (Trump, Bush, Walker, and Rubio) Rubio at 40 percent and Walker at 33 percent were the clear leaders.
Bush received 23 percent in that frontrunner match-up, but 26 percent of evangelical insiders said they would “absolutely” not vote for him in primaries. Trump, who has claimed to have evangelical support, received only 4 percent of those votes, and 75 percent said they absolutely would not vote for him in primaries. Very few respondents said they wouldn’t consider voting for Rubio (8 percent) or Walker (9 percent).. . .
Among candidates outside the top four in current polls, Cruz made a strong showing as the first or second choice of 25 percent of participants, but 20 percent said they would absolutely not vote for him in primaries. Fiorina, little-known several months ago, was the first choice of 10 percent and the second choice of an additional 7 percent, while 15 percent disdained her. John Kasich was the first or second choice of 5 percent, but 35 percent said they would not vote for him in primaries. Rand Paul had 3 percent support and 44 percent negatives.
The survey also suggests Huckabee, with four first-choice votes, and Santorum and Carson, each with zero, are not gaining significant support from evangelical leaders, although Huckabee did so in 2008 and Santorum in 2012. Respondents felt Huckabee (24 percent) has done the best job of evangelical outreach, and smaller numbers praised the outreach efforts of Cruz and Bush.