What happened to the women voters?

Before the election, there was widespread expectations that Trump had lost support among women, especially suburban women, and the elderly. As far as the women’s vote is concerned, that prediction does not seem to have been borne out

Before the election, Trump was widely mocked for the sort of desperate, tone-deaf comments he made in that Michigan speech, while polls predicted the president’s support among female voters would crater in a fatal blow to his and his party’s election hopes. But those predictions were mostly wrong. According to exit polls, Trump did one point better with women as a whole than in 2016, five points better with both black and Hispanic women, and three points better with white women. In a year with record voter turnout, those gains weren’t enough to match Joe Biden’s numbers, but the president can console himself with the fact that, come January, he will have helped put a record number of Republican women to work in the halls of Congress.

The 2020 election shows there are signs that the GOP is evolving — in the sense that wildlife in the fallout zone “evolved” after Chernobyl. The Republican Party didn’t much improve its demographic makeup this year — members who have promoted the deranged QAnon delusion now outnumber black Republicans in the House of Representatives — but at least 35 Trump-loving Republican women were elected, five more than the party’s previous record. As the president is forced to leave, spitting and screaming, his toxic, pugilistic brand of politics will live on in those women: paranoid conspiracists, partisan firebrands, and ardent Trump loyalists — a lot more Sarah Palin, and a lot less Margaret Chase Smith.

There still existed, in 2016 and even 2018, Republican candidates who deemed it prudent to put distance between themselves and the president, but not in 2020. The women who ran and won this year did so by emphatically embracing both Trump and Trumpism — even when the feeling wasn’t necessarily mutual.

As with Latinx and black and Asian voters, while there was a slight relative shift towards Trump, what sank him was that overall vote totals surged is all groups and this more than compensated for his slight gains in percentage share, as Juan Gonzalez pointed out and has been supported by other analyses.

This is a fairly common common statistical curiosity that one can see elsewhere. For example, there have been years where the average SAT scores for all ethnic groups of students separately rose but the overall average for all the students declined. How can that be? Because when the number of people taking the test in the low-scoring groups increase more than those in the higher scoring groups, their weightage in calculating the overall score increases but the rise in their average scores is not sufficient to overcome the downward pressure of the increased weightage.


  1. stemcellguy says

    Mano -- you’re a maths guy. Why is this explanation wrong:

    The statement that more women went for T than expected is based on exit polls. Biden supporters were more likely to vote early and by mail, and are not reflected in the exit polls. Thus, this is part of the red mirage, and the polls that sampled the whole population were more representative.

    Just curious about your take.

  2. jws1 says

    Yeah. Exit polls in an election where almost 2/3 of the voters cast ballots before Election Day. Soooper reliable.

  3. seachange says

    What this Rolling Stone article reads like to me is that a woman who hates women (and especially brown women) wants to blame the entire United States for the complete and utter failure of the Democratic party leadership. They can’t manage do condemn the entire US in their head, so they default to women, an acceptable (to them) and acceptably large group of “other”. The literal meanings of their words may very well mean what you think they mean that would make you write this post in the way that you have But the motivation behind it is IMO deeply suspect.

    The math may or may not be good, because as @1 says, “exit polls”. This is a failure to properly set up a force-diagram; this is a word-problem failure. I grew up in Silicon Valley with many of my kin working for tech. GIGO garbage in, garbage out.

  4. Mano Singham says

    All three comments are valid critiques of the problem of disaggregating results based on exit polls, given the skewed nature of voting this year. It would be interesting to see if statisticians can find better ways of disaggregating the voting patterns by taking this factor into account.

  5. says

    Breakdowns by gender are meaningless in 2020. Truthout reports 55% of white women voted for Cheetolini, up from 53% in 2016. White men voted R. And according to a recent survey, white gay men voted R too. The BBC’s breakdown show that white people voted R, while EVERY other ethnicity went for Biden.



    This wasn’t just an election. It was a race war.

  6. says

    Conservative women are also worried about abortion waaay above every other concern. Their vote goes predominately to the candidates who promise to end access to abortion, no matter what their other policies are.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    According to exit polls, Trump did one point better with women as a whole than in 2016, five points better with both black and Hispanic women, and three points better with white women.

    Exit polls, schmexit polls -- this makes no arithmetical sense at all unless there exists some massive cohort of US women voters not in the above categories and just slightly less enthusiastic than four years ago about the president-unelect. Who where?

Leave a Reply

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