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Why Women Hate Trump

He's going to grab suburban women by the whatever and make them vote for him.
October 28, 2020
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(Hannah Yoest / Photos: GettyImages / Shutterstock)

One of the many striking results from 2016 was that Donald Trump carried white women 47-45 over Hillary Clinton. So much for identity politics! The first female major party nominee couldn’t even win her own demographic niche.

And this result was even more striking because Trump wasn’t just “not a feminist.” He wasn’t your garden-variety, patriarchy-lite conservative, like a John Cornyn or Mike Pence. He was an anti-feminist: a walking, sniffing caricature of the kind of troglodytic asshole that most women—whatever their politics—hate coming into contact with. 

Like everything else about Trump, even this improbable victory got exaggerated. After the election he would go around claiming, “You know, I got 52 percent with women.” Which wasn’t true—overall, Trump lost women voters 39 percent to 54 percent.

But like so many things that Trump says but aren’t true, there was an idea of a kernel of a nugget of truth to it. Because if you were a left-leaning white gal—like myself—you felt kind of betrayed by the fact that your demographic peer group went for that guy. And the explanations were kind of discomfiting. Because at the end of the day the only real explanations were (a) racism or (b) internalized misogyny.

Yay us?

But what a difference a presidency makes. Four years and 220,000 lives later, white women have broken hard against Trump—he’s somewhere in the neighborhood of -3 to -8 with them.

And this despite the fact that, as Harry Enten writes, “majorities of white women have backed the Republican presidential candidate in nearly every election for the past 70 years.” More from Enten: “Biden has seen a double-digit improvement among women voters compared to Clinton.”

Yay us!

Some Republicans had hoped that Trump’s fake feminist daughter might have been able to trick suburban women into voting for her dad again. At the Republican National Convention / Hatch Act Memorial Bonfire, Ivanka tried to convince women that her father’s… foibles… were merely stylistic. “I recognize that my dad’s communication style is not to everyone’s taste,” she said. “And I know his tweets can feel a bit—unfiltered.”

The president’s problem isn’t his style, it’s his substance (or lack of).

I mean, on one level, Ivanka is correct. Part of the reason women have turned against Donald Trump is his “style.” They turn out not to like “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Or playing footsie with white supremacists. Or having peaceful protestors gassed and beaten at the behest of the president.

These “unfiltered” bits of “communication style” are not to their tastes. I know. So weird, right?

But women have also turned against Trump for policy reasons. The big one turns out to be the pandemic which the president has mismanaged to the point that it has killed a huge swath of the American people.

Of the world’s wealthiest countries we are close to the bottom in being the sickest. American women have watched as their country went from being a world leader to a cautionary tale.

And in his decrepitude, Trump has become not just desperate for these women to help him, but kind of pathetic. Like the ex-boyfriend who texts you a year later saying he wishes you hadn’t broken up with him. “[C]an I ask you to do me a favor, suburban women?” he asked at a Pennsylvania rally earlier this month. “Will you please like me? Please. Please. I saved your damn neighborhood, okay?”

The pathetic part isn’t that Trump wants to grab women by the whatever again. It’s that he (1) doesn’t understand why they left him and (2) doesn’t have any concept of what might bring them home.

Just as a for instance: Telling women who became uncomfortable because of your overt racism that they ought to support you because you think they’re closet racists, too is… a bold strategy, Cotton.

A less insane Trump—which is to say: someone who was not Donald Trump—would understand that women are not worried about Cory Booker moving into the neighborhood to teach them yoga and make them vegan cookies. They’re stressed out from having children home, staring at us, day in and day out for ten months. We’re worried about schools that are either closed, or operating on a hybrid schedule, or using test-and-pray and hoping everything works out. They’re worried about the extra work for moms, trying to figure out which kid is in school when and for how long, and the complicated tapestry of schlepping this all involves. 

They’re also worried about jobs, since women are getting crushed in the labor market, with more than 860,000 women dropping out of the work force in September. The Harvard Business Review has found that “women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs.” And the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress found that this was “the first recession where women have lost more jobs than men.”

When Trump ran in 2016 he used to go around saying, “What do you have to lose?”

Well, women have now figured out the answer to that question: our jobs, our health, our sanity, our freedom.

It turns out we had a lot to lose.

And the fact that Donald Trump thinks that the way to win us back is by bragging about keeping Cory Booker out of our neighborhoods?

That’s just the organic vegan chocolate frosting on this shit-sandwhich of a presidency.

Molly Jong-Fast

Molly Jong-Fast is a contributor to The Bulwark and the author of three books. Follow her on Twitter @MollyJongFast.