Politics & Government

Trump won all 10 of the most religious states

Trump family arrives at St. John's Church

President-elect Donald Trump, wife Melania Trump and family attend an inauguration day church service on Friday at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House.
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President-elect Donald Trump, wife Melania Trump and family attend an inauguration day church service on Friday at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House.

President Donald Trump won all 10 of the most religious states while Hillary Clinton won nearly all of the 10 least religious, as ranked by Gallup.

According to a poll released Wednesday, Mississippi was the most religious state in 2016, followed by nine others located almost exclusively in the South: Alabama, Utah, South Dakota, South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Georgia and North Carolina.

Only in North Carolina was the race even remotely close, with Trump winning 49.8 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 46.2 percent. The president beat his Democratic challenger by more than 10 percentage points in all of the other most religious states.

With 59 percent of Mississippians classifying themselves as “very religious,” the state has been ranked the most religious every year Gallup has tracked religious indicators for nine straight years. Very religious people are those who say they attend services every or almost every week and say religion is important to them.

Donald Trump protesters clash with his supporters -- and church-goers -- outside the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church on Ventura Street across from Selland Arena on Friday, May 27, 2016.

Although not in the South, Utah’s Mormon population leads it to consistently be ranked as one of the country’s most religious. Independent presidential candidate and Mormon Evan McMullin earned more votes there than in any other state, capturing 21.3 percent. Trump’s campaign comments about banning Muslims from the U.S. made many Mormons, who are wary of religious tests, wary of voting for him.

The nation’s evangelical population, concentrated in the South, voted heavily for Trump. Eighty-one percent of born-again/evangelical Christians voted for Trump, the largest of any religious category measure by Pew that cast ballots in November. Despite some skepticism over Trump’s social views, like his previous support for abortion, multiple marriages and at times pro-LGBT policies, the so-called “values voters” remained solidly Republican in 2016.

The evangelical vote in swing states like Missouri could be pivotal for Donald Trump. How do such voters find a way to support a candidate whose public behavior and beliefs seem to be at odds with their own?

Culture has a lot to do with how religious people are, Gallup said. Children living in religious states are more likely to grow up attending services and placing an importance on their faith. People who move to a religious state from a less religious one often end up attending services more frequently when surrounded by people who do the same.

According to Pew, 70.6 percent of Americans were Christian in 2014. Fifty-seven percent of white evangelical Protestants believe their religion is tied closely with their national identity, saying it is important to be Christian to be American.

Jewish people, followed closely by religiously unaffiliated people, were most likely to have voted for Clinton. Seventy-one percent of Jews and 68 percent of those who don’t identify with a particular religion voted for the Democrat.

Clinton won all of the 10 least religious states, with the exception of Alaska. Those states are Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Nevada, Alaska, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Hampshire.

Vermont has been the least religious for all but one of the nine years Gallup has conducted the survey, with the exception of 2015 when New Hampshire reported the lowest percentage of very religious people. The overall number of very religious Americans has declined slightly from 2008, from 41 percent to 38 percent.