It didn’t come as a surprise when Hillary Clinton won California during the general election, but it may astonish some that Donald Trump won a prominent Church of Scientology neighborhood in Los Angeles. Trump’s victory in this precinct (nestled between Hollywood Boulevard and Fountain Avenue) is the first Republican victory there since 2000.
Yet residents in the area are scratching their heads at how Trump squeaked out a narrow victory. He won the precinct with by three ballots (a total of 347 as opposed to Clinton’s 344), but it’s a stark contrast from the city of Los Angeles, where Trump lost by over 1 million ballots.
The Los Angeles Times reported there was very little advertising in the area, none of it by the church (which because of its tax-exempt religion status is not allowed to participate in campaigns). Only one precinct resident, who is listed as doing “public relations” for the church, donated $28 to the Trump campaign. Scientology spokesperson Karin Pouw said members of the church are allowed to vote how they please and were not encouraged to choose either candidate:
“The Church does not engage in election activities and cannot do so Such decisions are not a matter of faith. The Creed of the Church makes clear that Scientology is open to all. This would include anyone regardless of their race, color, creed or political affiliation.”
There are approximately 1,100 registered voters in the precinct with about half hailing from Scientology properties, as reported by the LA Times. Pouw did bring up an interesting point, as Trump won by only a few votes — coupled with the fact there are other Scientologists spread throughout the city — and feels this “inaccurately suggest a unique trend about a single religion.” This precinct victory wasn’t as large as the crowds Trump has been touting, but it’s still an interesting blip for the typically left-leaning voting state.