• Kedron Bardwell Simpson College


Prior research has investigated the differences between evangelical Protestant, mainline Protestant, and Catholic clergy in American general elections. We know less about attitudes and activism of clergy in presidential nomination campaigns. This research highlights results from a survey of 480 clergy on candidate support, issues, and political activism in the 2020 Iowa caucuses. A strong Iowa caucus showing often fuels momentum for candidates in the rest of the nomination race, as with Barack Obama in 2008. This 2020 survey covers issues such as immigration, racial justice, health care, and more. I also explore how Iowa clergy think about political activism and views on Christian nationalism. I find that most Democratic-leaning clergy supported center-left candidates in Iowa in 2020. Among Iowa clergy of all parties (including independents), most disapproved of the job Donald Trump was doing as President. A comparison with a 2012 survey reveals increasing polarization of the three clergy groups on political ideology, church-state issues, and racial justice.

Keywords: clergy, iowa caucuses, christian nationalism, political polarization


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