The term "values voter" is taken to mean someone who votes for politicians on the basis of their personal integrity and values; in reality, polls and studies show that evangelicals who identify as "values voters" support candidates they know to be repugnant or even monstrous, if they believe that those politicians will promise to take away abortion rights and persecute queers.
Subsequent research indicated that the latter was more common. In a survey conducted just after the 2004 election, Pew asked voters who said moral values were the most important issue to them in the election what concerns fell under the umbrella of "moral values." Forty-four percent mentioned specific issues like abortion or gay marriage, while 23 percent referenced personal characteristics of the candidates. (The rest referred in more general terms to Christianity or "traditional values.")
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Barna Group, a research organization that focuses on Christian trends, 58 percent of evangelicals said that candidates' stances on the issues were a key factor for their presidential vote, while less than half said the same of a candidate's character (46 percent) or religious faith (45 percent). Robert Jeffress, a prominent Christian conservative supporter of Donald Trump, told The Washington Post that for evangelicals, character matters, but "leadership, experience, morality and faith are all important, and the rank of those changes according to circumstances."
The Values That 'Values Voters' Care About Most Are Policies, Not Character Traits
(Image: Church of Satan)