I mentioned a few posts back about polling guru Nate Silver making an almost flippant suggestion on Twitter that if Trump were the nominee and if women refuse to vote for him based on the current polling, the entire Electoral map would turn Blue. Considering this is Nate, and that even when drunk Nate is serious about the numbers, I expected there to be actual data to back this up.
The wait is over - for the nonce.
At his site 538, Silver did a chat session with fellow pollsters and analysts about women voters this election cycle, and the numbers are not in Trump's favor.
micah: So just how poorly is Trump doing among women? Republican women and women overall?
clare.malone: By the way, readers, one person in this chatroom is wearing a “Feminist” T-shirt today. Guess who.
Harry: From The Huffington Post:
As you can see, Republican women in particular are much more unfavorable towards Trump than to Cruz or John Kasich (or the dearly departed Marco Rubio). Those are horrible numbers.
The same poll has Trump with just a 21 percent positive rating with all women nationwide. His negative rating with women nationally is 70 percent.
clare.malone: This might be a historical level of dislike, no?
harry: No major party nominee has had that bad of a rating, based on the data I look at.
micah: So Trump does really poorly with women — it hasn’t stopped him in the Republican primary, why will it stop him in the general?
natesilver: Because winning 51 percent of 100 percent is way harder than winning 35 percent of 35 percent?
I noted that meself awhile back: Trump doesn't have to win a majority to win the Republican nomination, he just has to win. And he's winning right now on a campaign that has him behaving as a crass, vulgar bully dismissive of people not of his liking... which is pretty much everyone he views beneath himself.
But that very campaign style to win the Party nomination is going to kill his chances in the General. What's going to hurt Trump is obvious in two key ways: his open racism against Hispanics, Blacks, Chinese and Muslims, and his willful ignorance that drives away educated voters. But now the media is picking up on the third thing hurting Trump: Trump is a sexist across the board, intentionally rude when uncalled for and accidentally demeaning all the other times. As Silver notes:
Yeah, a Machiavellian could argue that demonizing blacks or Hispanics or Muslims or gays is a winning, if incredibly cynical, electoral strategy for the GOP. That doesn’t work when you’re talking about 51 percent of the population. Furthermore, the fact that Trump doesn’t realize this suggests either that (i) he’s just making shit up as he goes along instead of being some sort of brilliant tactician; (ii) he’s a sexist down to his core and can’t help himself; or (iii) both.
Here's a nasty little secret about our electoral system (and it's one I've noted earlier!): there are more women voters (76 million) than men (66 million). Pissing off the majority of voters that participate in the general election is not a sound campaign strategy. And if there's any issue that can unite women, it's being treated like dirt by a misogynist bastard.
micah: So that’s my question: How much can Trump’s popularity with women change between now and November?
natesilver: Or to put it just slightly differently: Do the gender splits in Trump’s numbers suggest he’ll have a harder time improving his numbers than if he were equally unpopular with both men and women?
clare.malone: A great mystery … or perhaps not a mystery at all. To Nate’s point above, about the various theories of why Trump says sexist things, I think he kind of can’t help it, and while his sexist comments are being written off by the GOP electorate who’s voting for him, it’s going to be increasingly hard for him to pivot away from that image in the general election. I think he’ll try to do it, though, by deploying his oh-so-poised and career-oriented daughter, Ivanka, and I think he’ll also do it by just being less vituperative in his speech — he’ll pour a little whole milk on the hot-sauce rhetoric and hope for the best.
micah: But, Clare, hasn’t Trump just said too many sexist things? His record on this was long and bad when the campaign started! And it has only gotten worse...
micah: But that is why, to Nate’s question, I think this will be harder for Trump to change than if he were disliked equally by both genders...
clare.malone: Why? Because it’s more entrenched and women will reinforce the dislike more and more, as in an echo chamber of Trumpian disgust?
micah: Yeah. That is, there’s a very clear real-world explanation for Trump’s unpopularity with women — it’s not due to the vagaries of the news cycle or a well-run campaign against him. He’s sexist, and women don’t like him.
natesilver: One other big theme is that Trump had an element of surprise in the Republican race, which is part of why his opponents never really developed an effective strategy against him. That won’t be true for him against Clinton, who has had months to think about a strategy and put together opposition research that the GOP campaigns skimmed over...
There's another thing that Nate overlooked: one reason why Trump's primary opponents didn't want to attack him too harshly was because he was - and remains - a legitimate threat to split the GOP as a Third-Party candidate. They avoided hurting his fee-fees too early, and by the time they realized how much of a hook he had into the hardcore voting base it was too late. Hillary - or Bernie - isn't going to worry about driving Trump out of the GOP, they're going to be worried about stopping him from getting into the White House.
And they're going to have 70 percent of the women voters joining them in that effort. In 2014 there were 76 million women voters (rounded out). If that 70 percent holds up, that's 53 million pissed-off women voters who aren't going to forgive a guy like Trump all that easy. And given how Trump has alienated other core groups - Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, gays, educated people, sane people - that include a lot of male voters, I doubt he's getting enough of that 66 million male voters to cover his ass. I'm at the point where I'm doubting Trump can get 50 million total voters based on how unpopular (38 percent) he is.
Despite the talk Nate Silver and the others at 538 went into how Trump could pivot to a more moderate position to win more General election voters over, I doubt Trump can do that. He's all Id, with little or no control on his personality. What you see 99.44 percent of the time is what you get with Trump: he can't fake empathy or Congeniality. He can't trade in his verbal disgust and patronizing of women for anything: and he's never shown much skill or interest in apologizing for his sins.
Trump can bullsh-t all Trump wants, but he's not going to be able to sell that to people who hate him. And right now, too many women hate him.
Machiavelli wins again.