Top evangelical leader says he doesn’t believe poll showing strong Trump support in Iowa

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Bob Vander Plaats, an influential Iowa evangelical leader, said he doesn’t believe recent polling that shows evangelical voters still support former President Trump.

“I don’t believe them, and there’s a reason I don’t believe them – because it does not match up at all to what I’m hearing on the ground,” Vander Plaats told The Washington Post on Thursday.

He said he is a big fan of Ann Selzer, an Iowa political pollster, but said she has gotten it wrong in the past.

Vander Plaats’s interview came more than a month after he endorsed Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who continues to trail the former president in both state and national polls.

According to Decision Desk HQ, which has recently partnered with The Hill, the latest polling shows DeSantis earning 17 percent support among Iowa voters, while Trump is in the lead with 54 percent.

While Trump remains the clear front-runner in the race for the GOP nomination, Vander Plaats said he believes his numbers are “much closer to low 40s.”

“I don’t think he’s got a 30-point lead,” he said. “And I think there’s plenty of time to make that up.”

He said he doesn’t believe there is a disconnect between evangelicals who support Trump and those who don’t support the former president.

Vander Plaats, CEO of the Iowa-based Christian group The Family Leader, said he thinks evangelical Iowa voters are supporting Trump over DeSantis because the former president is well known and has “100 percent name ID.”

“He did things that they remember. And so you’re not going to leave him until you’re sold on somebody,” he said.

He added that there’s part of the evangelical community, “which I fully understand” that wants a disruptor.

Vander Plaats told the Post that he has “been a friend to Trump for 12 years.” After the former president attacked him for endorsing his rival, Vander Plaats told The Blaze that he has never supported Trump, despite having voted for him in 2016 and 2020.

If DeSantis doesn’t win the upcoming Iowa caucuses, Vander Plaats said he needs “to be a very close second,” because he isn’t sure who else could stop Trump from securing a second White House term.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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