By Bob Smietana – Facts & Trends

Measuring Americans by beliefs, not self-identity, makes a big difference in 2016 election polls.

Americans with evangelical beliefs have a great deal in common. They trust in Jesus alone, evangelize their neighbors, and believe the Bible is the final authority in their lives.

But when it comes to voting, race and political affiliation still divide evangelicals, according to a survey from LifeWay Research taken before the second presidential debate.

Overall, the split between those with evangelical beliefs who support Donald Trump (45%) and those who support Hillary Clinton (31%) aren’t that far apart.

The divide becomes clearer when respondents are split by race.

White Americans with evangelical beliefs favor Trump (65%) over Clinton (10%). Those with evangelical beliefs who are African American, Hispanic American, or Asian American vote virtually the opposite, favoring Clinton (62%) over Trump (15%).

Party affiliation is also a stronger predictor of voting preferences than faith. Three-quarters of Republicans with evangelical beliefs plan to vote for Trump. Though a smaller sample, 75 percent of Democrats with evangelical beliefs plan to vote for Clinton.

LifeWay executive director Scott McConnell said the divides among evangelicals will remain regardless of twists and turns in the election season.

“This group of Christians shares the same core beliefs, but they don’t vote the same way,” said McConnell. “There are significant cultural and political divides among evangelicals that will remain long after the election is over.”

Identifying evangelicals

The representative online survey asked 1,000 Americans four questions about core evangelical beliefs on the Bible, the crucifixion of Jesus, salvation, and evangelism. Those who strongly agreed with all four (17%) qualified as having evangelical …

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