Polling. Guest George Barna discusses what the post election polls tell us regarding how conservative American Evangelicals think and how Abortion, the Supreme Court, and Trump’s Cabinet Appointments influenced their votes in the recent election.
Air Date: 12/19/16
Guests: George Barna, Barna Group
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Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re discussing today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and culture from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. Your hosts are David Barton, America’s premier historian, Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor. And my name is Rick Green, former Texas state representative. Find out more about us at WallBuildersLive.com and also WallBuilders.com.
George Barna, Most Cited Pollster In History
George Barna is going to be with us later on in the program today probably one of the best researchers and certainly one of the most highly sought after guys in the Christian market for really finding out what the heart and minds are of evangelicals of today. David and Tim you guys know George well. David, you’ve written a book with him.
Yeah, I’ve written a book with him. George is actually considered the most cited pollster in history, period. So he has a really wide following. Got his start in political polling, still is excellent political polling. We’ve used him in that venue on political issues. He’s really great on cultural issues. He keeps up with everybody else’s polls across the nation and has the heartbeat of the country in a way that few people do.
We often don’t have to speak to our legislators every year because he’s able to say, “Hey, here’s what the country is, here’s what they’re thinking, here’s what they’re doing, here’s what they respond to, here’s what they don’t respond to, and here’s the changes we’ve seen in the last few years.” He’s just really good about diagnosing where we are and what’s going on. And he did the same thing in this last election.
I mean this is a guy who is in the field every single day with polling and in the last election he really did focus in on the conservatives, and Christians evangelicals would be considered among that. But he was doing polling every single day. And as we talked in the weeks leading up to the election, he had a great overview of what’s happening, what messages people were responding to, and what they weren’t responding to. It just, it really is a lot of fun to talk to George.
And also one of our most popular speakers that comes to our legislators conference as well.
Well, it’s because of that. Because he gives these guys a good feel for what’s happening in their own state, sometimes better than they themselves know. Because you get in echo chamber, you know how it is, with anybody. If you go to church all the time your echo chamber is the people in church. And you get shocked by what you see on social media or what you see in program or what you see in the grocery store.
And it’s the same with legislators. They get in the political arena and they get in a sound chamber, an echo chamber where they hear all the consultants saying the same thing and all the members of their party are saying one thing and all the members of the party saying the other side. They get used to it.
And then George steps in and says, “Well, let me show you where the people are and let me show you what communicates and resonates with them. Let me show you what does not communicate.” And so he is popular because he’s actually able to show them so many things that they really aren’t aware of. But that makes such a difference in what they’re trying to do.
George Barna will be with us when we come back from the break. Stay with us. You are listening to WallBuilders Live!
Truth Be Told With Tim Barton and David Pate
Hi, this is Tim Barton from WallBuilders and we are battling culture and attack on truth. In fact, the majority of Americans now no longer believe that there are absolutes and that absolute truth does not exist. Well, we are being bombarded from an existentialist, a postmodern, a humanistic, and a secular worldview that tells us the truth is how we define it. Truth is what we imagine, truth is what we believe.
Well friends, I can tell you that’s not the way it works. In fact, God defined truth in the Word of God and laid out very clearly what it is. And we have great examples from history. They show us some things work and some things don’t work. What we’ve done a while ago is to try to help combat this attack against truth.
We started a conference called Truth Be Told. One of the other speakers, David Pate, and myself team up and we go around from city to city talking about cultural issues but looking at it from a Biblical perspective and from American history seeing the examples. And so if you want to learn more about how we can apply truth to various issues of culture you can go visit our website, WallBuilders.com and look for information on Truth Be Told. Friends, in a time when truth is being attacked, it’s time for truth to be told.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. We have our friend George Barna back with us from Barna Research Group. George, good to have you back, Sir.
Good to be back with you.
Hey, excited about getting an after action report from you. Post-election, it looks like a lot of the polling that took place during the election on evangelicals turned out to be really interesting how it moved and just wanted to get some of your thoughts. You spoke at our Legislative Conference like you have done in the last few years and always a big hit. I just want to thank you for that as well. I know the Bartons want to thank you as well and those legislators.
Well, it’s always a great event to go to. I always learn a lot of things from being in that room with them, hearing about their struggles in the legislatures and in campaigns and whatnot. It’s a great thing. You learn a lot about policy in how the country’s moving. So I appreciate the opportunity.
Well one of the things that people really were interested in is the SAGE Con Vote. And that’s a term I think you came up with this in your research right?
SAGE Con Vote
Yeah, we did. You know it stands for Spiritually Active Governance Engaged CONservatives. So, this is a group of people who are faith driven. They’re kind of a faith-first population. And because of their faith in Christ and how closely they study the Bible, they believe that their faith compels them to be involved in all aspects of life including politics and government. So they really pay attention. They get involved.
Evangelical Voters Are The Same Size As African-American Population In Terms Of Votes
They represent about 12 percent of the population, so it’s the same size as the African-American population in terms of votes. It’s actually somewhat bigger than the Hispanic turnout in terms of votes. So it’s a pretty significant group of people.
Now, how did, as you watched this let’s say from the end of the primary once Trump had secured the nomination to election day,, was that all over the board? I know evangelicals that I talked to, what you would call Spiritually Active Governance Engage Conservatives struggled for awhile there. But somehow towards the end really it all came together. Well, not all obviously, but enough of them came together that it was record turnout. So were you watching numbers and it was just all over the place? Or did you see a pretty consistent climb?
No Other Candidate Has Ever Gotten 94% Of A Group Of Voters.
We started watching the numbers last year even before Mr. Trump got in the race. So you know, we tracked it all along. We had one or two surveys going every month with these people so we could see exactly what was going on. He went from about 11% support back in January at the start of the year. When the primary season started, he was about the fifth choice of SAGE Cons.
He was not a top choice by any stretch. But once it became clear that he was the nominee, then that support went up to about 70-71%. By Election Day, it went up to 94% which is outrageous. Frankly, I can’t remember any election where I’ve seen any candidate get any group of voters at the 94% level.
So what happened? They switched from being very concerned about his character. That never changed. But when they realized that it was going to be him against Mrs. Clinton, character was no longer an issue because both of them had issues, significant issues, in terms of character. So then they started looking at who has what policies. And by the end of the race, they realize that Mr. Trump was much closer to the kind of policies that they want to see put into place. And so they supported him.
Supreme Court Nominations And Abortion Policy: The Two Most Important Issues to Conservatives.
What was most interesting to me, though, was that a major turning point was that third debate, when Chris Wallace asked the question about abortion. The next day, we saw a big jump in SAGE Cons support for him because we also found that over the course of the campaign the other major shift was that while SAGE Cons, evangelicals, conservative Christians, no matter how you slice and dice the groups, the main issues were things like the economy, immigration, and size of government, all important issues. Health care was another one.
But as the campaign progressed what you saw was that groups like WallBuilders and Family Research Council, the whole United in Purpose Coalition were telling their people, “You know what. You’ve got to pay attention to the Supreme Court. You’ve got to be attentive to what’s going on with abortion policy.” And that took. And so by the end of the campaign, those were by far the two most important issues to conservative Christians. Abortion and Supreme Court nominations. And when they looked at what the two candidates were going to do to then it was no contest. So that’s why you wound up with 94%.
The Change In People’s Attitude Towards Trump
You could. It was such a significant shift and I was wondering even that night, I was sitting there watching the debate and there’s moments where I’m going, “Why did he have to say that?” But when it came to that question you just mentioned, it was his visceral reaction to partial birth abortion seemed so genuine. You know, that even though-and I think other evangelicals like SAGE Cons like us, that know these issues and are involved in him we’re going, “He doesn’t totally understand the issue because he could have responded to her thing about it being for the health of the mother better.” But just his gut reaction to how this should not happen. We should not be killing babies eight months in the womb.
For me, it put me at ease to go, “Ok, his gut reaction is right here and on this one issue, if nothing else, he is right and she is so wrong. And if she’s not willing to speak against selling baby parts and she’s defending Planned Parenthood and he is really going after them.” That was a telling moment for me. It really helped. And I think you’re right. I think that was the next day, man. Big change in people’s attitudes towards him.
Well, one of the things that we were hearing from SAGE Cons across the country was, you know what, he’s not really articulate communicator. But on that particular issue, again he wasn’t terribly articulate. He didn’t know all the facts, but it really seemed like on that issue he was speaking from the heart. And that gripped a lot of people.
They said, “You know I don’t think this is a campaign put on. I don’t think this is certainly something that was scripted for him. This is who Donald Trump really is. This is where he’s at in his heart.” And so because there are issues with character, can we trust him? Is he going to follow through on what he’s saying on that particular issue? They really felt, “You know what, I think that’s who he really is. And so we can have greater faith that maybe he’s going to follow through on that one.”
George Barna our guest. We’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back with WallBuilders Live!
We Want To Hear Your Vet Story
Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices, have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.
One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.
You have friends and family that also served. If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at Radio@WallBuilders.com. Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!
Home Depot Founder’s Statement On Supreme Court
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Our guest today, George Barna. We’re talking about the polling of the SAGE Cons. Those that are Spiritually Active Governance Engaged Conservatives and sort of their journey through the presidential election and how those numbers turned out to be so overwhelming.
Huge turnout for Donald Trump in the end. And George, you were talking about the two major issues, abortion being one, and then the Supreme Court. Now the Supreme Court issue, was there a point where kind of like the third debate was on the abortion issue? Was there a real point where that changed or was that just kind of an over time a lot of different voices joining the chorus on that?
I saw where the one of the founders of Home Depot came out and his statement was, “Look, you either get four years of Trump or 25 years of Hillary Supreme Court appointments.” There was like a 30 second clip and that was it. It wasn’t even just faith community leader saying that people like him were saying it. But was there a moment where the Supreme Court issue really hit?
There Was No Hidden Agenda With Trump
There wasn’t any particular moment. What we saw was that had a gradual climb over the course of the last you know five or six months. The thing that seemed to impress a lot of people as we talk with them about it in the interviews was that he had actually put out his list of who he was willing to nominate. There was no hidden agenda there. It’s like, “Well, here’s what I’m going to put up. This is the list I’m going to choose from.”
Nobody really knew who Hillary was going to go for. At one point in the campaign, Hillary actually came out in response to a question at a town hall meeting she had somebody said, “Well, would you consider nominating Barack Obama to the Supreme Court?” She giggled and said, “Oh that’s a great idea. I really like that.”
You talk about scary. So you know those kinds of juxtaposition between the two extremes, Donald Trump saying, “Look, mine have been all vetted by the Heritage Foundation and you know, a couple of other groups. These are conservatives and that’s who I am choose from.” And she is over there giggling about putting Barack Obama on the Supreme Court. You can see there’s a huge gap between, the big difference between the two.
What was there when Ted Cruz finally came out and said, “Look, because of that list and because of the assurances I’ve been given by Pence and others that he’ll stick to that list. I am now comfortable with saying this is the only choice. We have to do this.” Did you see any noticeable move in the Dow because of him doing that? Did that make the list more real or was that just kind of part of the cascade of voices that were saying this is what we’ve got to do?
Christians Felt Good About Trump’s Transparency
No, that was just another voice that was in the crowd speaking. It was interesting because what we found is that over the course of the campaign, Ted Cruz actually lost altitude with conservatives. They were kind of disappointed with how some things were handled after his campaign you know, kind of shut down.
So, I mean I think what we really had there was such a confluence of different voices all agreeing that, yeah, it seems like he’s really solid on this. He’s got good counsel. He’s been very transparent about who he wants to nominate. And we all feel pretty comfortable with that. So we saw that coming from media analysts. We saw it coming from Christian ministries across the country who are communicating with their constituencies about the importance of the issue. We saw it coming from other candidates, we saw coming from some Republican office holders, we saw it coming from some people, Christians of the legal community, Liberty Council and others. So I think there was enough unanimity coming behind them saying, “No, this is good stuff,” that conservative Christians could feel good about it.
That’s good. Well, any big surprises that you saw in the polling of the SAGE Cons towards the end?
We’ve Got To Get Churches More Involved
One of the things that was encouraging was that we saw that there was a greater willingness of SAGE Cons to actually talk to people who were going to vote otherwise about the importance of voting for Mr. Trump in this particular election. One of the things that we noted at the beginning of the campaign cycle is that there are some things that need to change. One of those is that we’ve got to get churches more involved. We’ve got to get pastors teaching from the Bible about the issues of the campaign. We didn’t see as much as we’d hoped for.
SAGE Cons Realized That It Was Too Important To Remain Silent
But what we did see was that the SAGE Cons themselves who usually remained silent, not because they don’t care but because they say, “Look if I’m going to get in an argument with somebody then it usually turns into an argument even though you don’t want to. I need to know the facts and because I’m not being taught the facts by my church, I can’t trust the facts that I get from the mainstream media. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to lie. I don’t want to manipulate. I want to be honest and truthful. I know what I believe but I don’t know that I can really effectively persuade others.”
So we found that typically SAGE Cons remained silent. But during this particular election what we saw again was a ramp up that by the end of the campaign SAGE Cons were out there talking about this with whoever they could get an audience with. They they came to realize that this election is going to be so close and it’s so important that we cannot afford to remain silent. So we were really encouraged to see that happen.
At Least One Polling Survey In The Field, Every Day Of The Year
Well, it is going to be interesting to see the SAGE Cons response to the appointments and as things go forward, the 100 day plan that they’re going to put in place. So we sure want to get you back and see. I’m assuming you’re going to continue to poll that group and see where they are?
Every day of the year we’ve got at least one survey in this field. We’re always trying to keep up to date with what people are thinking, and what they’re feeling, what they want, how they’re assessing, and what’s going on. Yes, and I’d love to be able to continue to share it with you.
Thanks lot. Look forward to having you back George, thanks for coming on.
Thank you so much
That is George Barna. Stay with us we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton
DVD On Common Core
Hi friends! This is David Barton of WallBuilders. The current condition of education in America is abysmal. Not only is educational achievement plummeting but every year, some 19 percent of high school seniors who graduate is completely illiterate. They can’t read at all but it was not always this way.
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In our new DVD on common core, we give you eight reasons why this current approach is so dangerous to our kids and our culture. We also show you an amazing history of education. So get this new DVD at WallBuilders.com.
We’re back on WallBuilders Live thanks for staying with us. Thanks to George Barna for joining us today as well. And guys, I would say that’s encouraging, the fact that because the Christian leaders spoke up about this and pointed out those two major, major differences when it came to abortion and the court that people responded.
Pastors And Churches Are Going To Have To Catch Up With The Christian Community
They did respond. Notice what he said, too, about “That’s where the Christian leaders and the Bible believing Christians were. But that’s not where the pastors and the churches were.” And that’s a disconnect that’s going to have to be solved at some time. Pastors and churches are going to have to catch up with the Christian community. And I’m not just talking about the professing Christian community.
What George is doing with SAGE Cons is these are the conservative, Bible believing Christians that we’re talking about. And the pastors and churches are not there. We’ve mentioned once before that in the weeks leading up to the election as George polled among them he asked those pastors and churches because he calls between 5 and 600 churches and pastors every day. He says he’s got surveys in the field every day and saw his work in pastors and churches. And that although over 90 percent of these pastors said this, “The Bible does address issues like sexuality and transgender and it does address economics and immigration, etc.,” 90 percent of those Bible believing pastors said, “But we’re not going to address those.”
It’s like really? I mean, Judges, with all the Bible verses there are in Judges. Do you want to look at Ezra 7:24, or Chronicles 19:6-7? And you look at Psalms 2:10-12 or do want to look at Isaiah 1:26. I mean, the Bible talks about Judges but you’re not going to talk about Judges? And it was amazing that there was that disconnect. So at some point the church is going to have to figure out that is supposed to be the leader and it’s supposed to be the one sounding the call.
Right now, in so many occasions, it’s unfortunate that Christians are having to go around their church leaders to get done what needs to be done. But you know, hopefully, we’ll see that change at some point in time and the pastors and church will decide they need to be leaders, to step up. And we are seeing more and more of that. I mean, we’re seeing good things for a lot of these guys but it’s just not the movement. It’s not there yet. And that’s what has to happen.
Well it’s a good thing, like he was talking about that are out there speaking. Our friend Tim Wildman and others that had a large audience that are willing to listen and frankly reason through this. That speaks well to all the different leaders in the Christian community that have had that voice. Like you said, not necessarily pastors, but the activist and the folks that have been out there with the radio programs and other things.
Rick, I think it’s also unique that you had a common voice in the midst of this. That so often, especially, in a field of 17, it’s so easy when there were so many good candidates at the beginning to kind of pick your horse and go with it. And so often Christian groups go in different directions. But to have it as George pointed out, this unified voice where these thoughts that we could get behind whether it be Supreme Court or in even in the Supreme Court, maybe the issue of life but religious liberty and in Israel and so many things that there was a unified voice behind this. So even though there weren’t a lot of pastors-and a lot being relative because we certainly know some, we had some friends of the program and certainly many of our pastors– but that there was a unified voice among even Christian activists is pretty significant because that doesn’t happen very often, either.
Key Issues Were Supreme Court And Life
And the fact that it was unified on key issues. As George pointed out, that the two turning point issues were the Supreme Court and was life. And that’s the way it should be. Didn’t get distracted by climate change and didn’t get distracted by immigration. Those are big issues. No question. But the key issues from a Biblical standpoint, Isaiah 1:26 is Judges. They determine the righteousness of the land and life is the first of all available rights is life. Our guy has got that
In Isaiah and Jeremiah, God Whistled And His People Came Running
And like George said for 94 percent of them to line up behind the same candidate, he didn’t remember that happening before. Now I’ve seen 93 percent, as in the first Obama election 93 percent of African-Americans lined up behind Obama. And so usually that constituency is very loyal but 94 percent and as George said, he’s just he’s never seen that. And so that is good news that we’ve talked in previous elections at some point time God has said in Isaiah and in Jeremiah and other places, that when he whistles his people come running and it’s like he whistled in this election and they heard him and they came running. And what a difference it made.
And I have to admit, I didn’t see it coming. I mean, I did not think everybody would show up like they did even with those voices that were calling for it.
David Sensed Trump’s Victory
Well, I’ve got to tell you, I went on record a month before saying, “I don’t care what the polls say. I haven’t believed the polls since the primary because running Ted Cruz’s thing we did, they were wrong.” By the second primary,I thought that Trump would win and that would be by a fairly comfortable margin and it would not be a very late night.
And you know I was part of the national news coverage on some of the cable networks and we were the first network to call the election and we called it after the results came in in Pennsylvania and it wasn’t a late night. I mean, that was before midnight Central Time and for presidential elections that was early. So I kind of sensed it was coming but I was really glad it turned out that way.
God’s Doing Something
Well, I remember back in the summer, David, you off air saying, “Man I just think God’s doing something here. And we can’t explain it necessarily and we wonder why it’s Trump that he’s doing it with. But God’s doing something that we need to we need to be prepared for what’s about to happen.” So yeah, I mean that was the point at which I started actually even being open to the idea. But I do think you saw it coming sooner.
Continue To Pray For Trump.
In the midst of that Rick too, this certainly is an area where now Christians have to remain vigilant. We cannot sit at home and think, “You know what Trump’s there,” and actually maybe because Trump is there we need to be even more engaged because he’s not someone that naturally inclined to lean the morally Biblical position. And so we’re praying that God puts great people around him. But as Christians we have to be vigilant and active and involved in this process and don’t check out now that Hillary is not there.
This Is Where The Work Starts
And to echo what Tim said, all we’ve done is the child has been born now. Now you’ve got to raise it. This is where the work starts. Getting born is the first part but raising the kid and getting him to do the right things, that’s where the work comes in. Tim’s exactly right. That’s what we face right now.
Such good points. Thanks for listening today folks. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.