Thursday, January 18, 2018

Who's Turning Against Trump? Women

From the Atlantic's account of a big new poll from SurveyMonkey:
Layering in gender and age underscores voters’ retreat. Trump in 2016 narrowly won younger whites. But he now faces crushing disapproval ratings ranging from 62 percent to 76 percent among three big groups of white Millennials: women with and without a college degree, and men with a degree. Even among white Millennial men without a degree, his most natural supporters, Trump only scores a 49-49 split.

Trump’s support rapidly rises among blue-collar white men older than 35 and spikes past two-thirds for those above 50. But his position has deteriorated among white women without a college degree. Last year he carried 61 percent of them. But in the new SurveyMonkey average, they split evenly, with 49 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval. His approval rating among non-college-educated white women never rises above 54 percent in any age group, even those older than 50. From February through December, Trump’s approval rating fell more with middle-aged blue-collar white women than any other group.
Among minority men, Trump's position is essentially unchanged or has even improved slightly; I guess nothing he has said has surprised them. But minority women hate him:
Among African Americans and Hispanics, reactions to Trump depend more on gender than age or education. In every age group, and at every level of education, about twice as many African American men as women gave Trump positive marks. In all, 23 percent of black men approved of Trump’s performance versus 11 percent of black women. “The outlier here isn’t [black] men … it’s [black] women, where you have near-universal disapproval of Trump,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster who studies African American voters. Still, black men are one of the few groups for which Trump’s 2017 average approval rating significantly exceeds his 2016 vote share.
When it comes to race, I think Trump represents a defensive spasm from the past, which is slowly disappearing. That anti-racist protesters always hugely outnumber the racists in any recent confrontation shows me that things will continue to move in the same direction. The nation's dramatic shift over the Civil War and its commemoration seems to me an important sign; heck, as Youtube recently reminded me, in my lifetime radical leftist Joan Baez recorded "The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down."

I think developments in the war of the sexes are potentially more explosive. I will bet now that the 2020 election produces the biggest gender gap in US voting history; that is certainly what the polls predict. Trump's election seems to have crystallized feminist discontent with men of a certain sort, and you see that discontent bursting out all over.

I regard these conflicts as fundamental and very difficult to solve, so I wonder where all this is leading. The anger that pours forth from men's rights activists and some of their feminist opposites troubles me; after all, it's going to be hard to continue the species if men and women can't get along, and young men without women in their lives (a rapidly growing group) are just plain dangerous. I guess the root of my rambling here is that I regard racism as a problem that could be solved, or at least for which I can imagine a solution. I am not at all sure that the problems of men and women, of marriage, of raising children in a world where everyone is supposed to have a career, ever can be solved, and I certainly cannot imagine a realistic solution. So to see these conflicts brought to the center of the national discourse makes me wonder what is in store for us. I am certain that this will make many men and some women even more loyal to Trump, who stands strongly for the old, patriarchal model of the family. I hope it makes more women turn against him. But I am not really sure that is how things will play out.

4 comments:

szopen said...

What about married women? I'd say women more often change political views after the marriage than the opposite.

David said...

The NYT recently solicited letters from Trump supporters asking how they feel about their man after a year, and published some of them. Obviously this is not a scientific sample and subject to the vagaries of the Times' selection. Nevertheless I thought it noteworthy that the many of the letters stated that the thing they most appreciated about Trump was the fact that he had destroyed ISIS and cowed Iran and North Korea. Now, so far as I can tell, Iran has not changed its foreign policy significantly in the last year. And North Korea seems to be more aggressive than it was in Obama's time, not less. The destruction of ISIS was simply the continuation of Obama's policy. But there they are, loving Trump for taming North Korea. What this tells me is that many Trump voters simply like a president who adopts a macho, bullying stance toward foreigners. Regardless of how the foreigners actually react, these voters feel more secure. (Israel, of course, is an exception--honorary Americans, in these folks' eyes. Virtually all the letters praised moving the embassy to Jerusalem.)

I think this relates to the sort of gender issues you're talking about. For both male and female Trump voters, Trump is their kind of male person, as demonstrated above all by his hostile, truculent stance toward the outside world. They're sure this is beneficial, and the actual results are beside the point.

It also demonstrates my longheld suspicion that dislike of foreigners, while it may not be in itself the most important thing to many people, is the one thing that is most consistent across the Right. This is not the same as disliking multinational corporations or Caribbean tax shelters--those are just Americans making foreigners useful. One interesting aspect of this is that Rightists seem to feel the country is more secure with fewer allies rather than more. They're even happy with insulting Britain and Australia!

John said...

Yes, David, that's the sort of issue I am thinking about, and this example shows why I am not sure how this will play out. Trump's masculine belligerence makes many people feel safe; they want such a man to be charge of protecting them and smiting their enemies. Other people want someone to "stand up for" them in economic terms, and again they think a belligerent macho man like Trump will stand up more strongly to the sinister international banking cabal or whoever. Perhaps part of the reason they forgive Trump his many sins is a sense that a real jerk will be a more effective fighter. So once we get a real Democratic candidate we are going to see a contrast between Trump, a macho sexist belligerent fighter for "his" people, and someone who may come across as too sensitive or too intellectual to fight effectively for his or her friends, and who will also have real trouble conveying complex positions in ways as clever and pithy as "I have a bigger button."

David said...

I think the die-hard Trump voters want someone like we're describing, but at the moment, I think a majority of Americans either don't want a person like that, or think that they're not Trump's kind of people, and don't feel defended by him. Among the latter are not only members of ethnic minorities and many women as women, but also suburbanites who think he brings insecurity and instability. For many voters, a bully in the WH makes them feel more nervous, not less.

I'm not sure how it will play out either (in terms of electoral politics in 2018 and 2020), but I don't think the uncertainty comes from the group of strong man (or strongman) voters we're describing. I think they'll vote for Trump almost no matter what, and I don't think there's anything the Dems could do to win them over. While dignified strength is always a plus, I just don't foresee any candidate from any party out-bullying Trump.

So no, intellectual and nuanced isn't going to win over Trump voters. But they're not going to be won over, and I think you can get a voting majority without them.