From Donald Trump to Ted Yoho, Republicans are losing with women voters

Though the United States is rightly focused on the coronavirus pandemic, last week’s events in Washington underscored that two years after women powered the Democrats’ 2018 push to flip the House of Representatives, Trump and some members of his Republican Party have not learned their lesson — and still cannot seem to show that they will treat women as equals and respect the dignity of their work both at home and in the professional realm.
As Trump ramped up his campaign to strike fear in the hearts of White suburban voters by arguing that they will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America this week, he tweeted out an opinion column in the New York Post praising his efforts to get rid of an Obama-era fair housing regulation. In passing, the column’s author, Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York, argued that women “need to focus on what’s at stake for their families” if Biden is elected.

But in the Thursday afternoon tweet that seemed straight out of the 1950s, Trump said “The Suburban Housewives of America must read this article. Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream. I will preserve it, and make it even better!”

McCaughey had referenced “women,” not “suburban housewives” (a term that began its slow death when Betty Friedan wrote “The Feminine Mystique” in 1963, helping to spark the women’s rights movement).

In another example of his failure to think about the consequences before he speaks, he wished Ghislaine Maxwell “well” during a Tuesday briefing on the coronavirus even though she faces charges for recruiting, grooming and ultimately sexually abusing minors who were as young as 14 as Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged accomplice.
Trump’s tone-deaf tweet about suburban housewives was in keeping with his long record of using demeaning language to describe women and his attempt to win the 2018 midterms for his party by stoking a backlash to the #MeToo movement by calling it a “very scary time” for young men.
It also recalled his lengthy history of sexism, and bullying and insulting women who have challenged him, including those who have accused him of sexual assault (which he has denied).

With his gendered and dismissive language, Trump has never figured out how to make up lost ground with female voters since 2016 and 2018. And he now stands to lose them by potentially historic margins in the November election.

The President was trailing Vice President Joe Biden by 25 points among women (35% to Biden’s 60%) in the recent Washington Post-ABC News poll and by 28 points in the mid-July Quinnipiac poll that showed Biden leading Trump among female voters 59% to 31%.

Those numbers should be particularly alarming to the Trump campaign given that Democrats’ best result among women in a national presidential exit poll was 56% to 43% in 2008, the year that Barack Obama vanquished Arizona Sen. John McCain. Among White women in the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, 50% backed Biden, 46% Trump.

CNN’s Director of Polling and Election Analytics Jennifer Agiesta notes that Democrats have never won a majority of White women according to exit polls dating back to 1972. (Former President Bill Clinton won White women by 48% to 43% in 1996, but the party has never gotten to the 50% threshold or above).

In 2016, Trump carried White women 52% to 43% over Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. Only 4% of Black women voted for Trump, and only 25% of Latinas supported him.
And as CNN’s Harry Enten wrote this weekend, this is not an election where the economy — which Trump has long believed to be his greatest strength — is driving the election.

At this moment when the number of coronavirus cases in the US has surpassed 4.1 million and more than 146,000 Americans have died, polls have consistently shown that Americans, particularly women, are more concerned about Covid-19 than any other issue.

Voters trust Biden more than Trump to handle the pandemic, and largely because of that, the former vice president has maintained a solid lead in the polls, both nationally and in many of the key battleground states that Trump needs to win reelection.

In a fresh round of CNN polling released Sunday, Biden’s advantage in the swing states of Michigan, Arizona, and Florida was largely driven by his edge among women, according to Agiesta.

Trump this week rolled out several initiatives that were aimed at increasing his support among female voters.

At the White House, he turned the microphone over to Charron Powell, the mother of LeGend Taliferro, who told the heartbreaking story of losing her four-year-old son to violence in Kansas City as she helped Trump make the case for the controversial initiative — known as “Operation Legend” — to send federal agents into big cities to tackle violent crime.

Lori Lightfoot, the Democratic mayor of Chicago — where homicides are up 51% from last year, is accepting some federal help from the Trump administration, but she said during a Sunday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that her city’s collaboration is a very different situation than that of Portland “where the Trump administration parachuted in these additional federal agents without consulting anybody locally.”

“I’ve drawn a very hard line: we’ll not allow federal troops in our city,” Lightfoot told Tapper when addressing the Trump administration’s new initiative. “We will not tolerate unnamed agents taking people off the street, violating their rights and holding them in custody. That’s not happening here in Chicago. So I have drawn a very, very bright line. I’ve made that very clear to every federal authority that I’ve spoken with and they understand that if they cross that line, we will not hesitate to use every tool at our disposal to stop troops and unwanted agents in our city.”

In another appeal to women during one of his coronavirus briefings, Trump said his administration requested $105 billion to assist school re-openings in the midst of the outbreak and argued that the money should “follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions.”

How the Republican Party opened itself up to the Trump takeover
But he also undercut his own message by continuing to argue that children must return to school in person — and falsely claiming that children don’t get sick or transmit the virus easily — even though polls show a majority of parents with school-aged children do not feel safe sending them back for in-person instruction.

Despite the administration’s efforts to convince the American people that they are getting the coronavirus pandemic under control and it will be safe for children and parents to return to school and work, Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday that Trump’s claim that governors have everything they need is not accurate.

Hogan, the chair of the National Governors Association, said his own state is still waiting for more personal protective equipment for nursing homes and argued that the federal government needs to ramp up the nation’s coronavirus testing capabilities as some states see waits of 10 days or more for results.

“That’s something that the federal government has really got to focus on,” Hogan said on “State of the Union.” “Instead, last week the President was talking about cutting funding for testing programs. … Probably the most important thing we can do right now is to identify where the virus is, and together with contact tracing, try to identify the infections and stop it from spreading.”

Earlier on the same program, Adm. Brett Giroir said the administration will not be happy with testing until the turnaround time is 24 hours, but he told Tapper they are “doing everything we can” to achieve that goal.
When the President began his push to reopen schools weeks ago, CNN’s White House team reported that he and his advisers hoped the issue would help him with female voters, many of whom are bearing much of the burden of juggling the homeschooling of their children while working from home. But with alarming spikes in cases around the country, Trump’s pitch has not gone over as planned.
The gendered language of the week, from Trump’s tweet to Florida GOP Rep. Ted Yoho’s verbal attack on Ocasio-Cortez — an incident in which the Florida Republican reportedly called the New York Democrat “disgusting” and a “f**king bitch” within earshot of a reporter from The Hill newspaper — was a reminder that Trump and many of his allies still don’t understand how to talk to women, much less about them.

During a heated exchange, Yoho challenged Ocasio-Cortez over her remarks on unemployment and rising crime in her home state. He denied using the slur against her and made a floor speech that was couched as an apology, but maintained that “no one was accosted, bullied or attacked.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who has accused him of lying, got the better of the tense exchange by delivering a nine-minute floor speech to decry misogyny and the “abusive” language that she said he and colleague, Texas GOP Rep. Roger Williams, used to confront her while she was walking up the east front steps of the Capitol for a vote on Monday afternoon.

In many interviews with female voters of all political persuasions over the past three years, one of the things many of them said they don’t like about Trump is his coarse, sexist language and how he has changed the dialogue in America — convincing his followers and allies that they can say whatever comes to mind, no matter how hurtful or offensive it is.

For Trump and Republican acolytes like Yoho, there are now too many self-inflicted mistakes to count. They are dragging their own party down with them — and no one will be surprised if women once again rise up in November and deliver a victory to the Democrats.

This story has been updated with comments from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Adm. Brett Giroir and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

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