'Where the White Women At?' Asks the GOP

Illustration for article titled Where the White Women At? Asks the GOP
Image: Paul Sancya (AP)

The Republican Party is nervous. President Trump’s Democratic competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden, is soaring in both national polls and battleground state polls. Trump’s approval ratings are on a steady downward trajectory. And the party’s so-called woman problem is getting worse, in the halls of Congress and in the voting booth.

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Politico reports that the Republican Party could lose several of its women senators in November. There aren’t many in the first place—nine total—but four are facing highly competitive races and a growing apathy toward Trump from the coveted White Suburban Woman voter could prove ruinous for the right.

Republican Senator Susan Collins is currently trailing her Democratic competitor Sara Gideon in Maine and incumbent Arizona Republican Martha McSally is flopping in poll after poll against Democrat Mark Kelly. Enough of a shift in just a few states, and the Republicans lose their longstanding Senate majority. Even if Trump won re-election, his power would be dramatically reduced.

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Democrats shouldn’t celebrate prematurely: If 2020 has proven anything, it’s that it is full of surprises, and if the United States has proven anything, it’s that voter suppression is always skip and a hop away. But the White Suburban Woman shift is—unfortunately—worth monitoring like a hawk. They’re a reliable and swingy voting bloc, one that leaned Trump in 2016. Democrats have been determined to capture this group and have fallen short, but might prove victorious this time around. And it’s not just the sensible Subaru moms who are giving Trump the slow fade. In June, the Los Angeles Times published an article about working-class white women turning on Trump as well:

While working-class men remain among Trump’s most loyal backers, defections among their wives, sisters and daughters are a big part of the president’s recent slide in opinion polls. That gives Democrat Joe Biden a shot at winning a swath of female voters that have long favored the GOP.

White working-class women heavily favored Trump in 2016. But recent polls show they are being driven away by his combative style, his erratic handling of the coronavirus crisis and his effort to quickly reopen the economy despite health risks.

[...]

Surveys in some battleground states have found Biden not just slashing Trump’s lead among working-class white women but overtaking him. In Wisconsin, where Trump beat Clinton among white women without college degrees by a 16-point margin, Marquette University Law School polling has found the president trailing Biden in eight of the nine polls conducted since August 2019.

Whether they’ll make good on their rejection of Trump come November is, of course, unclear. A well-timed anti-immigration talking point or culture war classic could get the right white women reluctantly ticking off Trump’s name in five months, offering a mealy-mouthed, “Biden was okay, but at the end of the day...” But the chances of this switch are becoming increasingly thin as Trump continues to fumble covid-19 messaging and make the kind of unhinged statements against the Black Lives Matter movement that mild-mannered Pinterest moms are having trouble stomaching.

Naturally, some Republicans are pretending that everything is fine, actually. From Politico:

In an interview, McSally rejected that Trump was a drag on the votes of suburban women.

“I’m a suburban, college-educated woman, so this is my demographic,” McSally said. “I’ve given my life to serve others, to break barriers for others … to stand up against discriminating policies like my eight-year battle in the Pentagon over the burka so this is my constituency, man.”

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O-okay.

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

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DISCUSSION

thehighwomaninthecastle
The High Woman In The Castle

If there’s anything that 2000, 2004, and 2016 taught me is never to trust the white American voter.

They don’t want someone who is qualified. They want someone they like who won't make them feel bad.