The Adventist Vote: Findings from the 2016 National Election Survey

Adventism presents a challenge to modern culture in the earth’s last days and faces a challenge in its witness on today’s vital social and political issues. An understanding of the Adventist social and political persona is key to facing this challenge, to shaping our individual ministry expression, and to engaging corporately to create a place that is more just and meets the needs of all. The aim of our 2016 National Election Survey is to provide a partial understanding of these challenges.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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It’s very difficult to get a clear picture of proportions within our church favoring any particular candidate or position because it’s difficult to address response bias. If Spectrum and Adventist Today readers were the primary respondents, then we should expect to see a slant toward liberal views. Identifying associations among the data should be more meaningful when carefully done by the researchers. The association between religious and political orientation, for example, was expected, but it also revealed a normal curve (with a lot people in the middle), in which we are not so divided as some would suggest.

Definitely looking forward to the next post that will include social issues.


Nice to see results posted so quickly. I get survey/review requests at work from service companies. Health providers request surveys on their staff. There are movie reviews and restaurant reviews all of the time. When will SDA churches initiate sermon/worship service & Sabbath school reviews?
I was told that “people vote with their feet”. It might help to learn the specifics.
It is time for the ministerial secretaries to integrate quality control into their management.


Were the 1600 respondents only from the readership of Spectrum and Adventist Today? Then given the obvious fact that most of the readership of Spectrum and Adventist Today represent the liberal wing of the Adventist denomination, it is not surprising that there were more votes for the liberal candidates than the more conservative candidate. It would be a more interesting survey if the respondents were actually more from the entire rank and file of the denomination. The results would more likely to have been more towards the conservative “spectrum” of political opinion.


It appears that the Spectrum and AT readers/commenters are a convenient sample, although biased by education certainly. However, both groups have many “conservative” readers and commenters.

I’m not surprised that a majority of this sample voted for Hillary, since this educated group would be most likely acquainted with her support and knowledge of Adventist Liberty magazine, the educational and medical system throughout the world, as well as her support for education and separation of church and state as well as the importance of her U.S. Supreme Court appointments to religious liberty.

Others, as the polls already show, who are high school educated or less, would support someone who wants to appoint Ben Carson to a position (because they are Adventists who want to vote for an “Adventist.”).

What is surprising is that Adventists who have traditionally supported diversity would vote for someone who would build walls and ship an entire group from a religion out of the country, when this is the country where Adventists were founded, found freedom, and continue to thrive as a diverse community of believers.

A stratified research project that includes broad education and ethnic levels would be most fascinating. Also, a broader level of age range would provide more predictability in trends with a reliability factor of +/- .5. Looking forward to seeing a more comprehensive piece of research on the election soon.

The educated, affluent voters of Spectrum/AT have been deceived by liberal media and left behind by the will of the people. The Democrat strategists grossly overplayed their hand and tried to sell a bill of goods that simply didn’t pass the smell test, even in an increasingly post-christian, hedonistic popular culture. America saw through the hypocrisy of the Clintons. America realized that she was “extremely careless” with sensitive documents after declaring that her personal server was only used to set up babysitting with Chelsea, to say “hey baby” to Bill, and to remind her when to go to her yoga.

Obviously a lot of Spectrum/AT people were willing to overlook the fact that the president of their choice has been “extremely careless” with national security. That is not rational.

Now the presidency, the house, the senate, the supreme court is lost. Democrats have some honest soul-searching to do. I see a Democratic abandoning of the extreme left/ Marxist agenda in the near future, and a scampering toward the middle. Candidates will avoid the prospect of being likened to Hillary of Barack like the plague.

Nothing tarnishes a good legacy as does history.


The fact that any Adventist voted for Donald Trump is appalling. I would be curious to know what compelled them to choose him? Was it just religious liberty or was it the racism and bigotry?


“The results would more likely to have been more towards the conservative “spectrum” of political opinion.” says BD.

Maybe among white voters, but not among black, hispanic and asian voters. But the church is not the white church living in rural areas anymore.

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The racism and bigotry canard is a fiction of the left. Conservatives are not inclined to allow such ad hominen howling rhetoric sway their common sense perspectives on the smorgasboard of issues that need to be addressed.

As Prof. Kent said, the challenge with this survey is response bias. In fact, given that the majority of respondents voted for Sec. of State Clinton, it’s likely that this same response bias is what tripped up all of the mainstream pollsters who forecast a sweeping victory for her.

I would be curious as to how the demographics of the survey respondents corellate to the US Seventh-day Adventist population as a whole. Without any supporting evidence, my guess is that US SDA’s at large have a lower average income along with higher levels of minorities. Additionally, matching survey respondents by state would also be helpful. For example if large numbers of respondents were from California, that would skew national results given that California voted for Hillary Clinton in a higher percentage than any other state.

(add) Not sure this tells us much about the political leanings of church members. If separated it by state it might tell us about the political leanings of SDA’s by geography which probably parallel non-SDA trends pretty closely. I say that as compared to Mormons who in 2012 and to a lesser but significant number in 2016 vote as a block.

What I find very disappointing in this research is that there are no definitions provided for the categories of conservative, moderate or liberal/progressive that they ask about with regard to politics and religion. Let’s say you have an Adventist who believes everlasting Hell is not only wrong but an insult to God. Now let’s say we have a Catholic who believes the traditional understanding of eternal suffering in Hell. Which one is liberal and which conservative in their religious orientation? Similarly, what about someone running for a political office where they will have to take an oath to support the Constitution but they vociferously demand that people not be allowed to spend money supporting the election of this or that candidate? Compared with someone who maintains that the First Amendment is extremely important and a hallmark of our society so people should be free to spend money in support of their preferred candidates? Which one is conservative and which one liberal? I think it would be much more helpful if instead of letting the respondent invent their definition of those categories the words would have been defined for the survey. Another example, it appears that Gary Johnson got about 10% of the vote from respondents, but Libertarian is not a philosophy that was allowed as a choice in your political persuasion. In addition to the self-selection bias others pointed out I believe this lack of word definition is fatal to this survey (which I did participate in).

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You raise a very worthwhile point. My observation is that the intellectual elite tend to just lump conservatives together into a category called “racist homophobic bigots”.


You forgot “Right Wing Christian Evangelical”. All Christians get thrown into this category, except some SDA’s, it seems.


It’s quite difficult to put faith and trust in polls even the most respected such as Gallup. It’s even more difficult to take much from a survey which only targets Spectrum and Adventist Today. And certainly that’s not to disparage the two scholars who conducted the survey.

There is a opinion shared by many that we have become very good at saying one thing yet doing another. Living in a SDA “getto” this is fairly common. Many verbalize and regurgitate the common themes associated with conservative SDA culture while living a much more liberal lifestyle. And while this is true from a religious perspective, it many times it is the opposite in the political life. The popular position of speaking “social justice”, whatever that means to the individual, many times is not what happens behind the voting booth screen. This double life both religious and political is not new to SDA’s since the cultural revolution of the 60’s and 70’s.

Today the group of 30-40’s SDA’s, a deminishing group, are not real students of politics. Some are and so one must not paint with a broad brush. However, the news they get from both conservative and liberal news organizations are simply driven by money rather than truth. We see this in the first reporting of a incident evolving a police shooting or the first reports of a mass killing. The first report becomes the driven truth. The after reporting is many times less than honest if it goes against the ideology of the organization.

I think more SDA’s vote economics, foreign policy, and their domestic position than they do religious liberty. Just watch the local church attendance when it is announced that the Religiouse Liberty leader will be having the sermon next week.


Attendance went up at my local SDA when it was announced Alan Reinach was to speak. Best sermon all year. So the problem is not the topic, but the speakers who sermonize on the topic rather than engage in real issues and live their life advocating on behalf of others.

Racism is fiction? Was slavery fiction as well?

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CommonSense, it’s because they have Common Sense. And thank God, they did!