Commentary: 63% of Latter-day Saint men give Trump a thumbs up, but only 42% of women do the same

(Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Donald J. Trump shakes the hand of President Henry B. Eyring of the church's First Presidency, Dec. 4, 2017. Also pictured from left to right: President Russell M. Nelson; Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president; Bishop GŽerald CaussŽe of the Presiding Bishopric; then-Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah; and Joel Moriyama, director of Welfare Square.

On Monday, the Pew Research Center released its most recent findings about President Donald Trump’s approval rating among various U.S. religious groups.

The highest support comes from white evangelical Protestants, 69 percent of whom approve of the job Trump is doing. This represents a decline from evangelicals’ previous approval rating of 78 percent, but is more than a two-thirds majority.

Among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, another group that has long supported Republican candidates and presidents, Trump’s overall approval rating was lower, 52 percent, but still in majority territory. A strong plurality, 39 percent, of Latter-day Saints disapprove of Trump, and 10 percent say they have no opinion.

Gregory A. Smith, Pew’s associate director of research, says that when Pew aggregates all 11 approval surveys it has conducted since Trump became president — surveying 316 Latter-day Saints, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.5 percentage points — several interesting trends emerge.

Mormon men are “significantly more approving of Trump’s job performance than [Mormon] women.”

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Latter-day Saint men approve of Trump compared with 42 percent of female church members. That’s a 21-point spread.

Among Latter-day Saint women, a slightly higher percentage (45 percent) actually disapprove of Trump than approve of him. Latter-day Saint men, on the other hand, approve of the president by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

Age is a factor among Mormons, as it is in the general population.

Nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) of those over 50 approve of Trump, compared with 46 percent of those younger than that.

“The differences between men and women and between older people and younger people roughly resemble patterns seen among the public as a whole,” says Smith.

In January, Pew released findings that indicated a sharp generational difference in support for Trump. Nationally, 54 percent of silent generation Americans approved of the job he is doing, but only 29 percent of millennials did, with baby boomers and Gen Xers falling in the middle.

Mormons are noticeably cooler toward Trump than toward George W. Bush, the nation’s most recent Republican president.

When Pew collected data from Latter-day Saints during the first two years of George W. Bush’s presidency, more than three-quarters approved of the job he was doing, compared to just over half who now approve of Trump’s performance in office.

On the other hand, Trump’s approval numbers are significantly higher than those Democratic President Barack Obama received in his early tenure. Of the Latter-day Saints interviewed during the first two years of the Obama administration, a scant 28 percent approved of the president.

Not only has approval dropped by 25 points from Bush to Trump, but also disapproval has tripled, from 13 percent to 39 percent.

Editor’s note • The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.