The Adventist Vote: Trump or Biden?

How Adventists Plan to Vote in the 2020 United States National Election

During the last week in August we asked Spectrum and Adventist Today readers, as well as members of Adventists for Social Justice and Adventists Vote (a voter engagement campaign), to participate in a short survey about their religious and political leanings, plans for voting in the upcoming election, and positions on a number of controversial social issues. We asked questions similar to those found in most public opinion polls such as the Gallup Poll, replicating many questions from our previous surveys of Adventist Today and Spectrum readers, Adventist pastors, and Adventist collegians. A summary and analysis of these findings and other studies of Adventists — religion, politics, and social issues — from 1988 through 2016 will be published soon in Spectrum.

Our Sample

More than 1,500 people responded, with 94 percent completing the entire survey (N=1,467). Most respondents were born in the U.S. (81 percent) and more than half (56 percent) were male. The age distribution of our sample trended toward older participants, with 7 percent aged 18 to 35 years, 11 percent aged 36 to 50 years, 25 percent aged 51 to 65 years and 57 percent over 65 years. More than one-third (37 percent) had total annual household incomes of more than $100,000 a year, around 16 percent between $75,000 and $100,000, nearly 18 percent between $50,000 and $75,000, and 18 percent at $50,000 or less.

Our sample’s ethnic background was 80 percent White, followed by Latino (5 percent), Black (7 percent), Asian (3 percent), Multi-Racial (2 percent), and Other (3 percent). Sixty-four percent of our sample had post-college graduate study or a graduate degree, 20 percent had four years of college, with the remaining 15 percent of respondents having some college study or less. Finally, 57 percent of respondents had no formal role in the church, while 20 percent self-identified as local church elder or deacon, 18 percent as Sabbath School leaders, and approximately 5 percent each for pastor, local Adventist school teacher/staff, or Adventist university faculty/staff.

Brief Findings

Our sample had a balanced range of religious and political leanings. As indicated in Figure 1, nearly half (48 percent) considered themselves moderate in their religious orientations. About one in four (24 percent) considered themselves to be religious conservatives, while another one in four (25 percent) were liberal in their religious orientation. About four percent (3.6 percent) identified as fundamentalist. Two-thirds (66 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that their religious beliefs influence their voting behaviors.

Figure 2 shows the respondents’ political orientation. Political orientation is generally associated with religious orientation, with an almost evenly divided 36 percent identifying as politically moderate, 30 percent identifying as conservative or strong conservative, and 32 percent viewing themselves as liberal/progressive or strong liberal/progressive. Party affiliation follows the same pattern. There were slightly more Democrats (34 percent) than Republicans (30 percent) or Independents (26 percent). The remainder were either not registered (5 percent) or were other (3 percent), perhaps because they had not registered by political party or could not vote due to citizenship. Over 90 percent said they were very likely to vote in the November election.

And now, the numbers you have all been waiting for! Figure 3 shows respondents’ likely votes for President. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents plan to vote for Joe Biden, about twice the number who plan to vote for Donald Trump (32 percent). Most of the remaining five percent were undecided, not voting, or planned to vote for a Libertarian candidate.

Using questions from a Pew Research Center poll, we asked Joe Biden supporters to indicate the main reason for voting for him (only one answer choice allowed). The largest responses were “He is not Trump” (29 percent), followed by “Other” (19 percent), “Positions on Issues” (15 percent), and “He is For the American People” (14 percent). When we asked Donald Trump supporters their main reason for voting for him, the largest responses were “Position on Issues” (33 percent), “Leadership/Performance” (26 percent), and “He is For the American People” (22 percent). “He is not Biden” was selected by only 5 percent, and “Personal Characteristics” came in at two percent.

We also asked our participants who they voted for in 2016. Twenty-nine percent said they voted for Donald Trump. A slightly higher percent (32 percent) continues to support Trump in 2020, showing consistent support from Adventist voters in our sample. In 2016, our participants supported the democratic candidate at 49 percent. At 63 percent, Democrat Joe Biden’s support is 15 percent higher in 2020. In 2016, the remaining 20 percent of these same voters either voted for a third-party candidate or did not vote at all. However, in 2020, much of that support now seems to have coalesced around Biden.


Our findings represent the views of a large number of Spectrum and Adventist Today readers — highly educated, largely white men and women across a broad range of ages, with generally higher socio-economic status. However, they represent a balanced range of religious and political leanings and party affiliations. While this sample may not represent the general Adventist population in North America, there is an almost evenly divided political and religious orientation across the spectrum. However, despite almost equal percentages of participants representing Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, the strongest support appears to be for Biden in 2020. While we are only beginning to look at the patterns in the data, it is clear that this group of respondents is highly engaged in the voting process. That said, given the highly polarizing nature of this year’s political process, it may be difficult to understand the true nature of Adventist political thought. Judging from the 623 vigorously worded open-ended responses to the last question on the survey, Is there anything else you would like to tell us about politics, social issues, or the national election? Undoubtedly, this election has stirred powerful sentiments in the Adventist electorate resulting in increased voter engagement. We look forward to sharing more findings from this study of Adventists — religion, politics, and social issues in the future.


Written by John T. Gavin, William W. Ellis, and Curtis J. VanderWaal.

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Interesting study … with flaws, unfortunately. The sampling strategy does not become apparent. A convenience sample from Atoday and Spectrum readers is very likely to be biased.

All the more disheartening the findings… If about one third of the intellectual elite of Adventism finds Trump to be an acceptable candidate for presidency - even an increase to the last election, European Adventists can only shake their heads in disbelief.


WOW! That’s good news. We only need to know if those votes will count after all, or will it all be taken to the Courts, and a dictatorship handed out to Trump. Will see…
I voted yesterday. I want my vote to mean something!



Andreas, how on earth can you say for certainty that both our Spectrum-in-residence prophet Dr. Tichy @GeorgeTichy and I are biased?!

We resent that label. :wink::rofl::rofl::rofl::wink:


Have you ever seen a Presidential Candidate refuse to answer because his answer will make headlines? Biden was asked if he’d support increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court. "‘They’ll know my opinion on court-packing when the election is over,’ ‘I don’t blame you for asking it, but you know the moment I answer that question, the headline in every one of your papers will be about that, other than - other than focusing on what’s happening now,’.

Actually, the only way it would be in headlines is if he said yes I will pack the court, if he followed normal procedures it would not be packed and not much news. In effect between Harris refusing to answer the question in the debate last night and Biden today. Yes, they intend to pack the court and rule by the court system instead of the congress. If you vote for Biden/Harris you vote for the end of America as a constitutional Republic. So those who say they will vote for Biden because he is not Trump need to seriously reconsider their thinking!


I hope so! With the unbalance of 5 Catholics, 1 Episcopalian, and 2 Jews, it is now very unrepresentative of the American public.


No Andreas, not here. You know that nobody here or at AToday is biased. :roll_eyes: :laughing:

This is actually not that bad, considering that the rest of the world, justifiably, is actually laughing at us! And every day adds to the reasons to do so. I am so embarrassed… But, still more, I am actually fearful that this election will actually go down the tubes at the end of the day the courts will hand to Donald Trump a true dictatorship.

This case about the militia blotting against the Michigan’s Governor… well I am not concerned about what the FBI knew and did not tell Trump; I am concerned with what Trump knew and didn’t tell the FBI before… :cold_face: :cold_face: :cold_face:


Sadly that there are people who care so little about the constitution that packing the court is something they want is a reality. I don’t think that it is widely accepted though and there is no need to micro-manage the religions of the judges if they actually interpret the constitution (textualists) Of course if one is for packing the court they could also pack toward a particular religion or anti-religion view as well.


I do too! What was the US population when the SCOTUS was packed with 9 Justices? I don’t know, but I know that the population is today significantly larger. I support a proportional increase of Justices. What are the Republicans afraid of? Justices or Justice???

Interesting… is anybody concerned with the fact that neither Trump nor Pence answered the question about peaceful transfer of power? Just this is a clear indication that those two have a plan in mind. Any American supporting that is engaged in treason.


OK, I just found it. The year for 9 Justices was 1869. In 1870 the population was 38.5 million. Therefore, considering the population growth, we should have ca of 9 times (81) Justices today!!! And there are people yelling and screaming about 13 or 19??? I see it only as a refusal to support JUSTICE, thus supporting the perpetuation of manipulation of justice!


Packing is a term used by those who support it and oppose it. There is nothing that means it would be more fair or balanced, it is effectively the opposite of balanced. Lots of states have not given us Presidents either, so what! The justices are supposed to be top of the heap not representative of the population as this is not a court of your peers it is a court to decide constitutional issues. If you are a professor of law and ethics I feel sorry for your students…But that is the problem of many of our schools and that is another issue.

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I am sad seeing you being the target of such an unscrupulous, vicius, and disgraceful personal attack like this one, “If you are a professor of law and ethics I feel sorry for your students.”


Is our friend Birder back?


At the end of the day, “packing the court” provides only brief satisfaction for those who would do it for ideological purposes. As soon as judges choose to retire or pass away the court once again reverts to a situation where the luck of the draw and subversive politics hold sway when it comes to who serves.

Who can deny that Mitch McConnell has engaged and is engaging in his own version of “packing the court” with his refusal to bring Garland’s nomination to the floor “because the American people have the right to choose” and his immediate commitment to bringing Judge Barrett’s nomination to the floor in the same situation?

If someone wants to complain about packing the court they have to be honest about their own complicity or opposition to that very thing in its various forms. Democrats are not completely innocent in suggesting the same tactics as McConnell has/is done/doing. Frankly I find both of them hypocritical on this.


Not sure, maybe his souls can take over other souls…
Yes, you are right to think of Walter (aka Picidae, Birder, Groucho - 3 poor souls!).

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Didn’t we know that his word is as good as Trump’s?
I hope he loses re-election. A deplorable like him (and Lindsey Graham) should not be there. Well,… unless they represent people whose character is like theirs. Yes, … maybe they will end up keeping their seats after all… :roll_eyes: :innocent:


Well not so brief it could cause the court to go one way for up to 40 (likely longer) years. But no doubt the goal is not just packing the court but changing the constitution. For instance the Dems also want to create DC as a state. giving the dems 2 more senators. Other ways are to make territories states and to divide states that are dem strongholds again for more senators… They actually have war gamed that plan

As for Mitch McConnell, the senate could have easily just turned down Garland, instead they chose not to hang that on the candidate and just did not bring it forward. I would not call that hypocritical.

All this is so silly, what would the folks who want to pack the court says if they thought that Trump was going to pack the court. Or worse yet when asked said I will give you my answer when the election is over! That is hypocrisy!


I would.

That is certainly something I would not put past him, would you?

The finger points right back at McConnell and Graham who are in hypocritical territory.

The balance of the courts is not silly.

With respect, I find your tone quite patronizing.


You just keep telling yourself that Ron! LOL


I’ve not looked at Moscow Mitch’s numbers but as of yesterday Graham was trailing in his state polling by 1%…