Will Amish Votes Make A Difference In 2016?

Tired of presidential election coverage? Well that makes two of us. But I feel the Amish vote topic, which we touched on in the spring, is worth revisiting for a couple of reasons.

Back in May we shared news of a Political Action Committee targeting Amish voters (“Amish PAC”) in Ohio and Pennsylvania, two key swing states, to generate votes for Donald Trump.

amish-pac-trump-billboardThe Amish PAC planned to go after the theoretical Amish vote via advertisements in Amish-read papers and billboards in the two largest Amish communities, Holmes County, OH and Lancaster County, PA.

I didn’t expect to hear much more on this story, but in recent weeks there has been another wave of national coverage of the potential Amish votes. I suppose this is in part because we are in the final few months of this campaign, reporters need stories, and throwing “the Amish” into a headline tends to generate attention and clicks.

Interestingly, the articles have revealed more on the perspective of the Amish regarding Trump, perspective which wasn’t as available in media coverage back in May.

Worth the effort?

To me it seems like a disproportionate amount of coverage of something that probably won’t amount to a lot, especially since we are talking about a small number of people who vote at significantly low levels.

However, the people behind the PAC feel the effort may be worth it. Amish PAC Co-founder Ben Walters explains:

“If the Amish were high-propensity voters, there wouldn’t be a need for Amish PAC. But they are not,” said Ben Walters, 27, who cofounded the Virginia-based group with donors to Republican Ben Carson’s primary run.

In the 2004 presidential race between George W. Bush and John Kerry, 13 percent of Lancaster County Amish age 18 and older cast ballots – a relatively bountiful turnout. But Amish PAC contends Trump can best it.

Of registered Amish voters, an estimated 93 percent are Republican. “When [the Amish] vote, they vote for individual rights, personal responsibility, less government, lower taxes, and to protect their right to bear arms,” Walters said. “And they are coming around to Trump. He’s not perfect. He has a lot of shortcomings. But they see him as an imperfect person who is much better than the alternative.”

What do Amish think about Trump? For what it’s worth, Philly.com published the opinions of two Amishmen in Lancaster County:

It reached John Riehl, 54, who sells corn, peaches, and tomatoes at the Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market. “I was Trump from the very start,” said Riehl, sporting a classic straw hat and mustache-less beard. “Trump knows how to handle money.”

For Mose Smucker, the jury is still out. Born in the village of Churchtown, Smucker, 66, ran a tack shop that supplied harnesses for the Budweiser Clydesdale team, among other celebrity clients. Since 2008, he has operated the Grill at Smucker’s, a sandwich and beef-jerky shop at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.

A registered Republican, father of eight, and grandfather of 24, Smucker said he didn’t vote in the primary election and is not sure if he’ll vote in the general, being “kind of leery” of both Trump and Clinton.

“Some people say we need a businessman in the White House, and Trump is a businessman. That’s a little bit what I’m hearing,” he said. “But some of his other values are not parallel to our beliefs.”

The Amish abhorrence of gambling is just one issue. Some experts on Amish culture say Trump’s involvement in casinos could be as much an impediment as his divorces.

Will the Amish vote matter?

Will the Amish make a difference in this election? As noted, there are relatively few potential Amish votes up for grabs, due to their overall low numbers and propensity not to vote.

However, elections have been decided by several hundred votes before. If they do make an impact, Trump would much more likely benefit over Hillary Clinton. A man quoted for a story in Maclean’s suggests one reason why:

“No Amish is going to vote for Hillary,” says the man in the library. “No one wants a woman president. … What does Bill think about his wife running for president?”

This strong statement reflects Amish Biblical views of the family and gender roles. More broadly, I would say an important reason would be traditionally greater sympathies among Amish for Republicans over Democrats (as noted above).

As Steven Nolt explains in this article, Amish reluctance to vote stems from Two Kingdoms theology, with God’s kingdom of more importance than the worldly kingdom we live in. Or as one man put it for Maclean’s:

One dairy farmer explains the case for not voting. The end of the world could happen at any moment, he says. In the meantime, every interim detail is determined by the Almighty.

“One guy on the knees (praying) will do more than 20 at the polls,” says the farmer, standing in front of his red barn. “God puts leaders in place to fulfil His plan.”

As I commented back in May, I don’t think Donald Trump as a candidate would be especially appealing to the Amish. George W. Bush benefited to a limited degree from Amish voters in 2004, but his image was that of a family-oriented Christian, two elements that resonate strongly with the Amish.

The perception of Trump is not the same. Donald Kraybill, who co-authored an article on the Amish-voting-Bush phenomenonputs it succinctly:

“This year is very different,” he said. “Bush had a down-home, farm-type persona. He spoke about his faith as an evangelical. Trump is filled with hubris and is boastful. For the Amish, humility is one of the highest virtues.

“If Pennsylvania is decided by 300 votes, will a few Amish votes make a difference?” he said. “Maybe. But I really doubt it.”

In the end the results will reveal if the Amish PAC’s efforts were worth it. Perhaps Trump’s perceived business acumen or other appeal will entice Amish voters.

But whatever happens, Amish will continue to wield prayer for this earthly kingdom’s leaders, even as they focus foremost on their spiritual destination.

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Join the Amish America Patreon for bonus videos & more!

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    26 Comments

    1. Anabaptist Hutterites Elected a US Senator

      Although I don’t believe most of the Amish will even consider voting. In S. Dakota a few years ago many Hutterites voted for a Democrat US Senator and the vote was so close that it was believed that the Hutterite vote put him over the top. Without the Hutterites he would have lost. That’s why it is said in S.Dakota the Hutterites (who usually don’t vote) ELECTED A US SENATOR. A small number of votes can make a difference.

      The values of Trump and Clinton have nothing in common with Amish values.

    2. Debbie H

      I don’t think Trump will draw a large number of Amish to the polls. If anything the candidates will keep them away. Hillary because she is a woman and Trump for his immoral life style.

    3. Fran Handrick

      Will Amish Votes Make a Difference in 2016

      When we were in Ohio and Pennsylvania in June this year, we were told by Amish friends that they would not be voting because the choice was between a clown and a crook!

    4. M.H. G

      Will Amish votes make a difference in 2016

      A good read!
      Choose the lesser of two evils…

      I heard some will vote for one of the Independents…

    5. Alice Mary

      I'll be curious

      I’ll be going on another Amish day trip through my local community college a week from today. We’ll be visiting Amish in the Kingston, WI area (visiting an Amish school in session, too). I’ll be curious to see if I notice any election posters or billboards in the area, focusing on the Amish vote. I really hadn’t thought much about the Amish voting, since it seemed to me that few Amish do vote. But this election year being as unpredictable as it is, I wouldn’t be surprised by anything!

      Is it only the men who vote, or do women, as well?

      I can’t help but ask if any Amish ever ran for any public office…in this century or the last few. Is that something that’s absolutely forbidden? Just wondering…

      Alice Mary

      1. jerry

        Amish voting.

        In my experience, some orders vote in every election while others do not vote in any election. It’s like window screens vs. no window screens. The same with women voting. Some do while some orders do not. OOM in my area allow all to vote. I have been told of two elections where an Amish person has been on the ballot. It was for a local supervisors position in Union County. PA.

        1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

          Yes I get what you mean, I was just very surprised to hear this from Big Valley. To hear relatives and friends talk about it, I’m just really surprised ANY of them are thinking of voting.

    6. Judith

      Voting

      My ancestors fought, struggled, toiled and died for the freedom to vote – or not vote – according to one’s beliefs, regardless of race, religion or creed. My relatives have served this country since before the Civil War. Freedom is a relative term.

      We have laws, no doubt. We have commandments from God, no doubt. And we all have cultural rules.

      But the one place we are free – is in the voting booth. With such freedom comes a great responsibility. Do we vote for a candidate that will take us into war, that will build walls, that will create hatred and violence against those who are different from us? Or do we vote for a candidate who is a slick politician, greases palms, but does not take us into war, does not build walls that create hate and suspicion.

      Both candidates are flawed. Both are dangerous. Buy one is more dangerous than the other, for sure. And if Trump is elected – then I could believe the end times would be closer at hand than at any other time for this country.

      As for gender bias – I would rather vote for Mary Magdalene than Judas.

      But from what I’ve read – this is all moot. It appears the Amish exercise their hard fought freedom to not vote if they are so inclined.

      1. Rev. Michael

        Some Amish may vote... Zero will vote Clinton.

        The Amish generally do not vote. They consider themselves to be part of God’s Kingdom, and are called by scripture to be separate from worldliness.
        Some may vote, as this is a very important election for the future of our country. I would strongly suspect that Hillary will get Zero Amish votes. This is due to her support of abortion, which is the wholesale murder of hundreds of thousands of unborn babies each year. No Amish man or woman would ever support this horrible sin, babies are a special blessing from God, to kill the life that God knit together in the womb is grossest sin.
        That being said Trump is not especially strong in the Pro-Life department himself. He will also be viewed as a leader who could potentially lead us into more war which Amish also despise.
        Politics play a very small role in the lives of these hard working Godly folk. I believe most will be at home on election day either working or praying. Some may vote to keep out Hillary.l

    7. jerry

      Amish voting.

      I’ve been to close to twenty Amish Auctions this year and some Amish are talking politics. At first men would start a conversation about politics and then later I decided to work it into conversations. The Perry County, Pa Amish were leaning toward Trump and saying that Clinton was not truthful. Amish in Gratz, Dauphin County, Pa and Lebanon County, Pa were also leaning to Trump. Since these three groups are closely connected to Lancaster County one might make an assumption that they too are leaning that way. Beaver Springs and Winfield said that they do not vote in presidential elections. At another Beaver Springs auction on Memorial Day I was told by women making food that “it’s not a job for a women”. Also not voting. The same, “not voting” camment came a couple of weeks ago from a hugh auction in Reedsville, Pa.

      The big auction in Belleville was split. Some were concerned and voting while others just didn’t seem to care. I could not determine a position. Later an auction below Belleville in Allensville, the support was Trump. One middle-aged woman said that God made man first. The men here will be voting.

      Buffalo Valley had some people comment positively on my Clinton button while the Trump hat got slightly more response in the Synder County auction.

      I have three more auctions to attend and I will wear something loudly political and walk thru the crowd. Two hours later I will switch and do the same for the other candidate and observe responses. As election day approaches it could be interesting.

      PAC money would have better been spent by making a donation to a charity with Amish connections with a story of such in the Budget.

      All politics aside, I’m just there for the fellowship and food.

      1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

        Now that really got my attention, Jerry. We have quite a few friends & relatives in Belleville, Allensville, and the general area and I have not heard anyone mention the possibility of voting. We’ll be heading in that direction soon, so I’ll be sure to ask about this! I personally don’t know any Amish people who are planning to vote. Do you speak PA Dutch?

        1. jerry

          Amish voting.

          Mark, I speak very little. I did not do well on that 10 question quiz on AA last year. I also forgot to mention that in July there was a Trump rally in Mechanicsburg, Pa. We had tickets to attend and got in line to wait but they only allowed 5,000 people inside the school. While waiting in line, we did notice two Amish men and two Amish women also in line about a mile in front of us. The line zig-zagged and we could see them clearly. Most likely they were from one of the Perry County orders on the other side of the mountain or they may have come from the conservative area of western Cumberland County. I should have paid more attention as I might have been able to tell by their clothing. The local news paper commented on seeing Amish at a Trump rally.

          The Big Valley, as you know, is the home of Amish diversity. It’s all right there. I could easily live there as long as it’s off the main road.

          1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

            Yes, Jerry, Big Valley is about as diverse as it gets. Holmes Co. has more different kinds of Amish, but the differences are not as noticeable to a visitor. I always thought the little village of Barrville would be an interesting place to live. Are you familiar with it?

            1. jerry

              Amish voting.

              Yes, I like Barrville as well. It’s small and Amish and non Amish live side by side. I could easily live there.

        2. jerry

          Amish voting.

          Mark, This year I’ve seen many things that are changing.
          The number of cell phones is amazing.
          Quilt tops that are machine stitched.
          Bolts of fabric in dry goods stores that are from China.
          Footwear is getting much more fancy.
          In Winfield 70% of young boys are chain smoking.
          The new buggy now has air bag suspension, torsion bar axels and glove box doors have laser carved scenes on them. And sold for $11,800.

          The Amish are changing right in front of me.

          Amish in PA have had their share of bad press this year as well. The beating of a downed horse, the rescue of an almost dead puppy, the old horse that was paintball covered and the “sale of children” have all had a negative impact here in central PA. And as usual there is always more to the story that the general public doesn’t understand or is not presented properly.
          It’s a rough year indeed.

      2. Oldkay

        I love it!

        jerry wrote:
        “I have three more auctions to attend and I will wear something loudly political and walk thru the crowd. Two hours later I will switch and do the same for the other candidate and observe responses. As election day approaches it could be interesting”

        What great and funny idea. Let us know how this works out.

    8. Janice

      Will Amish Vote

      Frankly, I’m rather disgusted that anyone, let alone an Amish, would vote for Trump! Is Hillary a crook? No doubt, but no more crooked than any other politician. At least she’ll know what to do. She actually has a brain. Trump is not only a crook, he doesn’t care about anyone other than himself. He is ignorant, racist, and a misogynist. Oh wait, the Amish are misogynistic as well! To vote for someone as narcissistic as Trump, rather than a woman, says a lot about the Amish in those communities! Running for president was just a joke for him at first, now, he wants to win, just to boast about winning. He doesn’t really want to lead a country. As for Amish voting for gun rights, really? Why do they need guns? Aren’t they supposed to be peaceful people?

      1. Oldkat

        Hmmm ....

        Since no one else was interjecting their own political beliefs into this conversation, I wasn’t going to either. This post really changed my mind.

        Let me start by saying I believe that anybody can hold any political position that they want; their opinion is their opinion. I get that. So by all means have at it Janice.

        Next, let me say that prior to Donald Trump throwing his hat in the ring I always viewed him as a huckster, snake oil salesman, carnival barker … whatever. Generally every time I saw him on TV I changed the channel. I saw him as too much of a clown to bother watching. Nothing that I have seen or heard in this wacky political season has really changed my mind about that.

        The problem I have, is that if you take all of his undesirable traits and assign them to Hillary Clinton (most of which she already has in her own right anyway) you realize that, actually, you would be HAPPY to support her if those were her ONLY bad traits. Problem being that they would be among her BETTER attributes!

        So, while I have little hope that Donald Trump would make a good President, or even an acceptable one I find myself being forced to support him. I have seen enough of her Corrupt, Lying, Incompetent, Nasty, Tacky, Obnoxious, Narcissist self over the years to know that she has ZERO chance of being an acceptable President.

        There will be a woman President someday and I would have no problem supporting a qualified, competent and capable, semi-honest female candidate. She just doesn’t happen to be ANY of those.

        You reference her brain power; I say it is a moot point … as she can never “recall” anything anyway. Especially so when she is being interviewed about the numerous times where a “No” answer would be outright perjury in the instances where she has violated federal law. Care for me to enumerate those for you?

        Ask the women that were destroyed by the “Bimbo Eruption” team led by none other than HRC because they had the audacity to testify against her husband in their sexual harassment trials what a champion she is for women’s rights? Apparently if a woman stands up and tells the truth about a Clinton they HAVE no rights.

        I can answer the question about gun rights for you though. Simply put, the Amish don’t “need” guns … any more than anyone else does. Many of them are hunters and therefore “want” to own and use guns. But honestly, their lives probably do not depend on whether they harvest a deer to eat or not. They understand, as I do that: A) the Second Amendment to the US Constitution gives the Amish the RIGHT to keep and bear arms, same as it does any other American and B) They know, as I do, that as long as Hillary R Clinton is NOT elected that the Constitution has a reasonable chance of surviving. With her in office it does not. Those of her political mindset have an open distain for it and are licking their chops at the opportunity to gut it.

        Question is, are Americans willing to allow that to happen? Since Donald Trump has been a life- long Democrat, until his supposed conversion to the Republican party, there is no absolute guarantee that it will be protected by a Trump Presidency. Under a Clinton Presidency, with a stacked Supreme Court, it is an almost certainty that she will stack the court with hard core leftist and then set about destroying the very document that has made this country unique and special among all nations in the history of this world.

        So the Amish may be like me, in the sense that I don’t really like him, certainly don’t admire him and don’t entirely trust him, but will still vote for him because he MAY BE vastly superior to the alternative. He literally can’t be any worse, so there is little risk in having him elected. In this case I will go against conventional wisdom and go with the devil I don’t know, rather than the one I do know. I think all handful of the Amish that actually do vote will see it pretty much same way. You, of course, do not and that is your prerogative.

        1. Janice

          Will Amish Vote

          Oldkat-You sound fearful of women, even if you say otherwise. I am a “leftist” and consider gun rights an important right of the American people. To believe that Hillary will take away all your Constitutional is just plain ignorant. As for her stacking the court with “hardcore leftist” judges, so what? We’ve been stuck with hardcore conservative judges for years! As for our country being, “unique and special,” it hasn’t been unique and special since the Bush years! We are more despised around the world than ever before! To vote for an openly racist bigot, only shows just how racist and bigoted a voter is. As for voting for the devil, yes, Clinton is corrupt, but no more corrupt than Trump! Have you really delved into his business practices? Have you seen whom he does business with? Are you aware of how many times he’s filed for bankruptcy and left his messes to be cleaned up by the taxpayers? Do you know that he stiffs his employees, offers poor benefits, does not like to hire US citizens because he would have to pay insurance, he claims Americans aren’t good workers, the list goes on! Do you really believe this man is capable of running anything except his mouth?

      2. Mark -- Holmes Co.

        Hello Janice, Please keep in mind that not all Amish vote. I live in a very large Amish community and I do not personally know anyone who votes. But I will say that I hope not everyone will be judged by a snotty comment made by one (or even a few) Amish people. I have my own reasons for not voting and I certainly don’t prefer one candidate over the other, but I would never consider voting for one just because it would be voting against a woman running! I have heard a few older non-Amish men make similar comments and whether the person making it is Amish or not, the first thing to come to mind is the book I read about Margaret Thatcher. As for gun right… I am one of many who do NOT own a gun.

      3. Amish are Pacifists

        Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, and Hutterites are all pacifists. No question about that. A few renegades will vote for Trump, and a few will vote against him (will vote for Hilary), but the vast (huge) majority of the Amish will NOT be voting. Period. They will pray for whoever wins. As for Trump, he has nothing in common with Amish or Anabaptist ideology. Quakers and Hutterites who vote tend to go Democrat. (In South Dakota the Hutterite vote is considered to have put a Democrat Senator “over the top” in a close election.) The majority of Mennonites who vote will likely vote Democrat, but there is a strong Republican element in some Mennonite communities, and that could be important in a close race.

    9. Min. Terry Miller

      Two Kingdom Philosophy

      The Two Kingdoms philosophy taught by the old orders does not allow for participation in things political, especially partisan. Hence, old order philosophy/theology does not allow for voting, political activity, etc. Most Amish (Old and New) still follow these Biblical teachings, as do the majority of the conservative Mennonite groups. Individuals will sometimes ignore their church teachings, but these happenings are few and far between.

      As for the Second Amendment, this is not something talked about in Amish circles. Amish are pacifists and believe in nonresistance, turning the other cheek. Guns are used only for hunting purposes, for food, never for protection.

      1. Yes , This Mennonite is voting Republican

        1. Janice

          Amish voting

          Oeter M, Johnson: You do that. You prove that you do not care that Trump has no idea what he is doing, and that he will further drag this country into the gutter. How anyone can vote for someone who is as mean-spirited as Trump is, shows exactly the kind of Christian he/she is! Clearly, your kind of Christianity is very self-serving!

          1. jerry

            Last Saturday night I went to a Trump Rally in Lancaster County. I saw about 25 Amish there. Men, women and older children. They are truly Trump supporters.

            1. They were there for a good laught.

              The “Amish” you saw at a Trump rally where probably there for a good laugh and some free entertainment.