- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

CLEVELAND — Just six in 10 evangelical leaders said they would hold their nose and vote for the “least bad” option if they didn’t like either major-party candidate in the presidential race, according to a survey released Wednesday by the National Association of Evangelicals.

Sixty percent of the evangelical leaders polled said if they didn’t like either major-party candidate they would vote for the candidate they dislike the least, while 28 percent said they’d vote for a third-party candidate and 12 percent said they wouldn’t cast a vote for president.

That’s according to a June poll of the board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals that was released Wednesday. The group lists about 100 board members on its website.

The group didn’t specify the leaders’ preferences for president, but evangelicals have historically been a major part of the GOP coalition.

Republican nominee Donald Trump frequently touts the support he received from evangelical Christians in the GOP primary, though some have expressed concern that some members of the crucial voting bloc won’t show up in the fall.

But a recent survey from Pew Research Center showed Mr. Trump is actually winning over white evangelical Christians at a slightly greater rate than 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was at this time four years ago.

Seventy-eight percent of white evangelical Protestants said they plan to support Mr. Trump in the fall, including 36 percent who said they “strongly” support him, according to the Pew polling released last week.

In June 2012, meanwhile, 73 percent said they planned to support Mr. Romney, who is Mormon, including 26 percent who said they “strongly” supported him. Nearly eight in 10 ultimately voted for Mr. Romney, according to exit polls.

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