Tuesday, October 09, 2018
Hey GOPers: women see you. It isn't just Trump.
EJ Graff took a deep dive into the phenomenon of white college-educated Republican women leaving the party. It's been happening for a while. But Trump shifted it into overdrive:
Trump’s election and performance in office have clearly pushed independent and Democratic women into action, resulting in record numbers of women running for office, and surges of women involved in local political organizing for the first time. But what about Republican women? Is it possible that Trump—and the Republican politicians who enable him—are not just alienating left-leaning women, but are permanently damaging the GOP’s female ranks, driving some splintering portion of women away for good?
Republican women still overwhelmingly support the president—84 percent of them, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll this week. But that statistic overlooks a broader trend: Fewer and fewer American women identify as Republicans, and that slow migration is speeding up under Trump. My conversations with pollsters, political scientists and a number of women across the country who have recently rejected their lifelong Republicans identities suggested the same—and illuminate why this moment in American politics might prove a breaking point for women in the GOP. According to pollsters on both sides of the aisle, that doesn’t bode well for the Republican Party either in this fall’s midterms—which are likely to bring a record gap between how men and women vote—or for the party’s long-term future.
The gender gap began with white men leaving the Democratic Party in the late 1950s and early 1960s in response to the civil rights and women’s movements, Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg explains. Only more recently did women start actively leaving the GOP. For two decades now, they have been leaking away from the Republican Party, very slowly becoming independents, while independents have been drifting toward the Democrats. In 1994, according to Pew, 42 percent of women identified as or leaned Republican, as did 52 percent of men. By 2017, only 37 percent of women and 48 percent of men still did. In 1994, 48 percent of women and 39 percent of men identified as or leaned toward the Democrats. By 2017, those numbers were 56 percent of women and 44 percent of men.
Trump’s election put this gender shift “on steroids,” Greenberg says. According to Pew, the share of American women voters who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party has dropped 3 percentage points since 2015—from 40 percent to 37 percent—after having been essentially unchanged from 2010 through 2014. By 2017, just 25 percent of American women fully identified as Republicans. That means that when, say, 84 percent of Republican women say they approve of Trump and his actions, or 69 percent of Republican women say they support Kavanaugh, or 64 percent say they, like Trump, don’t find Ford very “credible,” those percentages represent a small and shrinking slice of American women.
These shifts in party allegiance might seem mild, but they matter. As Rutgers political scientist Kelly Dittmar recently wrote, women have voted in higher numbers and at higher rates than men for decades. In 2016, according to Dittmar, 9.9 million more women than men voted, and about 63 percent of eligible females voted, compared with 59 percent of eligible males. If more women than men vote in November, women’s shift toward the Democrats is likely to be over-represented on Election Day—especially in an election like this one, in which women are highly mobilized and motivated. The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walters recently noted: “The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal survey found that [white college-educated women] support a Democrat for Congress by 22 points—58 percent to 36 percent. In 2014, they preferred a Democratic Congress by just 2 points.”
“If these trends continue,” political scientist Melissa Deckman of Washington College told me, “women’s preference for Democrats will be a big contributor to the midterm results.”
And beyond the midterms, too. “Once you give up that party label, you’re less inclined to easily take it back,” says University of Virginia political scientist Jennifer Lawless. Liam Donovan, a lobbyist and former National Republican Senatorial Committee staffer, notes that the Republican loss of college-educated white women “is not balanced out by a huge spike among white men—on net, that’s a real problem for the Republicans.” Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, of all people, put it more starkly this summer: “The Republican college-educated woman is done. They’re gone. They were going anyway at some point in time. Trump triggers them.”
Graff spoke to a number of these former Republicans, women of various ages, incomes, and regions. They really don't like Trump. I feel their anger. There is something very triggering about Trump --- he's many women's worst nightmare of a man. Everything about him personally is offensive and disgusting to me from the incessant bragging and overall narcissism to the blaming and the lying and the cheating and the crude macho dominance. Others like me apparently agree.
But Graff found something else that I think is very important:
Trump alone didn’t push these women to shed their Republican labels; other GOP politicians’ unquestioning support for Trump did that. Several told me they were angry that an all-Republican government has become the party of fiscal waste, deficits, trade wars and rebates for the wealthy. Zalmat said she is angrier at the “spineless Republicans in the Congress” for “enabling [Trump’s] crazy” than she is at the president himself. “The Republicans that I knew and held beloved really have disappointed me,” Thrift agreed. “They’ve become such sycophants for power. It’s no longer about what’s right for people in my district or my state; it’s about how do I keep my position.” Or as Lawrence, the Kansas teacher, put it, “The Republican Party to me seems like it’s being run by white, upper-class or wealthy businessmen who aren’t paying attention to the rest of us.”
Sentiments like those are telling, says UVA’s Lawless. “If the Republicans had stood up to [Trump], not necessarily on substance, but in terms of style and rhetoric,” she says, the reactions among voters might be, “I’m still a Republican, but I’m not supporting Donald Trump.” Instead, she continues, “because the Republicans have been complicit in a lot of what Trump has done,” many women no longer feel they can consider themselves Republican. And that’s a big step out the door.
I'm not a Republican so I never would have voted for any of these fools in the first place. But even I thought there would be a few who might be willing to step up for patriotic reasons or, more likely, because there is a market for anti-Trump Republican political leaders. Sure, it would be a risk, but somebody in the party is going to benefit when people inevitably get tired of his repetitive schtick and you'd have thought there would be a few out there staking out that position. As far as I can tell the only one really doing it is John Kasich.
The Republican Party has doused itself in gasoline and set itself on fire for Donald fucking Trump. I guess they figure they can protect their interests with a Supreme Court majority and get what they need for their corporate masters in the fire sale before the whole thing turns to ash.
Read the whole Graff piece. It's fascinating. I don't know how this will all shake out in the end, but it does appear that a lot of GOP women have had it.
digby 10/09/2018 12:30:00 PM