Trump and white women voters

One of the big stories in the 2020 election is how so many white women who voted for Trump in 2016 have defected to Joe Biden. This has resulted in Trump pleading with them to vote for him. (He uses the euphemism of ‘suburban women’ because explicitly asking for white women’s votes would be a racist rhetorical bridge too far even for him.) His pleading to them borders on the pathetic.

In Pennsylvania on 13 October, Trump asked: “Suburban women, will you please like me?” On 17 October in Michigan, he implored: “I saved your suburbs – women – suburban women, you’re supposed to love Trump.” And the next day in Nevada, Trump begged: “Suburban women, please vote for me. I’m saving your house. I’m saving your community. I’m keeping your crime way down.”

Not being white or a woman, I am not sure whether it is a good idea to beg like this to vote for you. In general, people tend to be uncomfortable around needy people. Trump obviously has terrible attitudes towards women. He is boastful, preening, arrogant, and condescending, the very caricature of a male chauvinist pig, the kind of person ridiculed in hit films like 9 to 5, the kind of person who makes workplace environments toxic for women.

In 2016 Trump won the vote of white men by a whopping margin of 62-32% but what really surprised me was that while Hillary Clinton won 54-39% of the women’s vote overall, white women voted for Trump by a margin of 47-45%.

That still puzzles me. It can’t be that they were all anti-abortion zealots who valued that over everything else. It had to be that they disliked Clinton enough to go for Trump. But why? Other things being equal, you would expect white women to feel that it was time to break that ultimate barrier in US politics and rally round in a big way and install a woman as president, the way that black voters rallied round Barack Obama. But clearly other things were not considered equal. I still have not been able to understand the depth of antipathy of white women towards Clinton despite this article that talks to some of them who voted for Trump but now have buyer’s remorse.

These half-hearted pleas are about three years too late for voters like Becky, who lives in a suburb of Des Moines and asked for her last name not to be used because she was worried about being targeted for her opinions.

It didn’t take the 63-year-old long to regret her vote for Donald Trump, who she wanted out of office within weeks of him becoming president.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, what did I do? What did we all do? What would’ve been so bad about Hillary?’” Becky said. “He’s so good with his lies. He made you believe she was hiding her emails, doing all these things she shouldn’t be doing.”

At this point, Becky can’t stand the president and laughed before calling him the antichrist.

“That’s how badly I feel about him,” she said. “If we don’t get him out, we’re in a load of trouble here.”

One problem for Trump is that the pandemic has had a hugely disproportionate negative impact on women because they have been the ones who have had to cope with children being at home. In September four times as many women dropped out of the workforce than men. Trump’s utter failure to have a coherent plan for dealing with the pandemic and his cavalier dismissals of the seriousness of the issue has to be infuriating,

One bright spot for Trump is that while Biden still leads among Hispanic and black communities, Trump is maintaining and perhaps even increasing his support among them, compared to 2016, especially with men.

One last point on where Trump has made gains among Black and Hispanic voters: He has done particularly well with Black and Hispanic men, which might speak to how his campaign has actively courted them. For instance, the Republican National Convention featured a number of Black men as speakers this year. And Politico talked with more than 20 Democratic strategists, lawmakers, pollsters and activists who explained that many Black and Latino men are open to supporting Trump as they think the Democratic Party has taken them for granted. The same can’t be said of Black and Hispanic women, though, and the gender gap among nonwhite voters is shaping up to be even bigger than it was in 2016. Ninety percent of Black women supported Biden in UCLA Nationscape polling — unsurprising, as this group is arguably the most staunchly Democratic demographic in the electorate — whereas less than 80 percent of Black men did the same. And among Hispanic voters, 64 percent of women backed Biden compared to 57 percent of men.

It looks like women voters are the key to voting Trump out. If they vote in large numbers across all demographic groups, he is in trouble.


  1. consciousness razor says

    That still puzzles me. It can’t be that they were all anti-abortion zealots who valued that over everything else. It had to be that they disliked Clinton enough to go for Trump.

    Well, that doesn’t quite follow. Some of it may be about dislike/distrust of Clinton. However, don’t forget that, as you had mentioned, the “suburban women” thing is about thinly veiled racism (and capitalism). It’s not just that particular term in isolation; he very explicitly and directly connects this with crime and low-income housing.

    So, racist shit like that (and his other racist shit) may be part of the appeal for some. It doesn’t need to have anything to do with Clinton or abortion. Certain people may have changed their minds for the better, or they’re unimpressed with what appear to be his empty promises about keeping them “safe” from the poor/black/brown hordes (who still exist, it hardly needs to be said). Others can probably never get enough of it, and they’re people who are simply not influenced much by facts or evidence.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    I still believe that the main problem with Clinton was simply that she had been in the center of the Republican mudball crosshairs for two decades. You can’t have that much mud thrown at you for that long, especially as a woman, without some of it sticking.

  3. Baubo says

    I’m a white woman on the left coast. I held my nose and voted for HIllary, because Trump was and is unthinkable. I wish I could have been enthusiastic for HIllary, but she was everything that is wrong with elite politics. It was crystalized in a speech where she quoted Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high,” and then her very next sentence went low. And always in the background was that she gained prominence because of her husband, not on her own. Racism and abortion had nothing to do with it.

  4. Ay-nony-nony says

    @Brucegee; I agree with you, except it was closer to 30 years, not just 20 years. She enraged conservatives back in 1991 for the abhorrent crimes of being a woman, having an education that included not just college, but also law school, having had a career, and worst of all, *wearing pants*. The Republican party had only just added the fundagelicals to their tent, and fundagelical men are terrified of women, particularly women who are better-educated and harder-working than they are. When Bill Clinton announced his wife selected as her unpaid cause “health care for Americans”, why, the entire rightwing lost its collective mind. They don’t seem to mind “Be Best”.

    Thus, 30 years of non-stop, ruthless attacks against her.

  5. says

    “Suburban women” is racist-excuse code for the racists that fled the cities during the civil rights movement, cratering the tax base and sabotaging the schools so they could avoid black people. Fuck them.

  6. says

    I disliked Clinton for her absurdist Kushneresque “I am going to fix healthcare” failure. She did nothing to earn the job and barely managed to muddy the waters. She has always impressed me as a person who would do anything to access power, and the times she has achieved power, she was a hawk in sheep’s clothing. All the republicans accomplished was making me feel sympathy for her considering the shitty coat-tails she was riding.

  7. Adam W. says

    I’ve been burnt by my own cautious optimism more times than I can remember but screw I’m going to make a prediction: Joe Biden will win the popular vote by at least 10 million votes.

  8. anat says

    Marcus Ranum @5: And that dog-whistle is becoming more difficult to interpret nowadays, as suburbs are diversifying. In my suburban school district about half the elementary schools are now ‘majority minority’.

  9. Ay-nony-nony says

    So, Marcus Ranum, does it occur to you that Hillary Clinton was not the one who fought so hard against health care? Do you suppose she created those “Bob and Sue at their kitchen table” ads, or created the “death panels!! Eleventy!!” panic?

  10. Who Cares says

    As someone an ocean away from the US Hillary came over as cold, distant, only in it for the power, unable to relate and more of those negative emotion describing adjectives.
    And most people vote based on emotions (else the tribalism that basically determines what 90% of the people in the US vote wouldn’t be there). If they’d use ratio then it would have been like I told my friends/family that it was a choice between:
    Hillary: Good for the US, not as good to bad for the rest of the world.
    Trump: Bad for the US, good for the rest of the world.

    Though that good for the rest of the world was based on Trump seemingly not being interested in foreign policy while having moderates to doves lined up for foreign policy and the military. Then he started firing them (like just about everyone else he got lined up during his campaign) and replacing them with the likes like Bolton and having them leave since they got fed up with Trump.

  11. John Morales says

    It might be worth being aware she got nearly 3 million more votes than Trump did.

    (It ain’t the populace who elects the Prez, it’s the 538 electors — as befits a putative Democracy)

  12. Katydid says

    @robertbaden; that’s another talking point. There was nothing Hillary Clinton could have done that would have satisfied her detractors. Left Bill? She’s a home-wrecker. Stayed? She’s “indifferent”.

    Additionally, despite all the money the rightwing dragged through the trailer parks, they couldn’t find anyone credible to accuse Bill Clinton. They had…Monica Lewinsky, a 20-something woman who came to DC with the goal of seducing the president, who had seduced professors in college and was in a competition with her mother to see who could “bag the biggest star”.

    Meanwhile, complete radio silence on the first porn star in the White House, and her husband with dozens of credible victims--some as young as 13. Where’s the faux-tears spilled that Melania stays with her husband, why almost as if she’s indifferent?!?

    The tired talking point about Bill Clinton’s sexual shenanigans is just another rightwing meme.

  13. says

    So, Marcus Ranum, does it occur to you that Hillary Clinton was not the one who fought so hard against health care?

    I hate them more. Do you have a point? I’m not going to assume Clinton was great because she had such enemies. I didn’t think much of her friends either.

  14. Katydid says

    @Who Cares; your POV is interesting. As a USAian who spent 20 years living overseas in various countries who’s still in touch with a lot of non-USA friends, the overwhelming message I was getting from them in 2016 was “We hope Mrs. Clinton wins”. People in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain all seemed to find her very congenial. Maybe you followed Rupert Murdoch’s news?

  15. Ay-nony-nony says

    So, Marcus Ranum, does it occur to you that Hillary Clinton was not the one who fought so hard against health care?

    I hate them more. Do you have a point? I’m not going to assume Clinton was great because she had such enemies. I didn’t think much of her friends either.

    @MarcusRanum, you hate who more? You ask if I have a point--do you? Who can tell? Can you think about what you want to say and try again?

    Also, I don’t think Hillary Clinton cares if you dislike her friends. Do you really hate accomplished women so much? It seems as if you do.

Leave a Reply

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