Saturday, July 25, 2020

Women who Voted for Trump

Sarah Longwell has spent much of the past three years holding focus groups with women who voted for Turmp – sometimes all college-educated, sometimes all non-college educated, sometimes a mix. She writes,
Many observers were doubly confused because they had expected Hillary Clinton, as the first major party female nominee, to be especially strong with women. And she wasn’t. Trump did poorly with African-American and Hispanic women, because he did poorly with all African-Americans and Hispanics. But he managed to actually win a narrow plurality among white women.

But that mystery has been easy to solve. Over the last three years I conducted dozens of focus groups with both college-educated and non-college-educated female Trump voters. And the answer given most commonly for why they voted for Donald Trump is “I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. I voted against Hillary Clinton.”

In 2016, Democrats understood that Hillary Clinton was a deeply polarizing candidate. But even they didn’t grasp the full magnitude of it. Right-leaning and Republican female voters had spent more than a decade hating both Clintons, and they didn’t stop just because Hillary’s opponent was an unrepentant misogynist.

In fact, Bill Clinton’s legacy of similarly disgusting behavior with women—and Hillary Clinton’s defense of her husband—had the effect of blunting Trump’s own execrable track record. These women voters decided that either way, there’d be a guy with a long history of sexual malfeasance living in the White House.
According to Longwell, Trump's support in her groups started to fall right after the election, as reflected in the Democratic surge in 2018. But Republican women stayed loyal to him, citing the strong economy; after all, many of them supported him in the first place because they believed that as a successful businessman he would handle the economy well.

Then things started to get weird:
Since March, I have conducted the focus groups virtually and watched Trump’s position with women weaken in real time.

Interestingly, in the early days of the pandemic the women in the focus groups were frustrated with Trump, but didn’t necessarily hold him responsible for everything that was happening. He hadn’t done great, they said, but it was a tough situation for any president to handle.

It wasn’t until the killing of George Floyd and the resulting protests that the bottom started to drop out.

Two weeks after Floyd’s death I ran a focus group with seven women from swing states—all of whom voted for Trump but currently rated him as doing a “very bad” job.

Only one was leaning toward voting for him again. Three were definitely going to vote for Biden. The other three were still making up their minds. But even these undecideds were unequivocal in their distaste for Trump’s posture on race and his handling of the protests. They actively recoiled.

One of the Trump voters who had decided to vote for Biden said, “The stakes are too high now. It’s a matter of life and death.”

That’s a pretty a good distillation of why Trump has been shedding support from women over the last few months. The multiple crises laid bare the fact that Donald Trump isn’t the savvy businessman these women voted for. Instead, they see him as a divisive president who’s in over his head. . . .

Donald Trump and his campaign think they can stop the bleeding with women by leaning into the culture wars and highlighting looters, rioters, and vandals pulling down statues. But this is a fundamental misunderstanding of these voters. They don’t see Trump as someone who can protect them from the chaos—they think he’s the source of it.


JustPeachy said...

And yet... among people other than white women, I have been seeing a veritable exodus from the left. There are a whole lot of people who used to think of themselves as liberals, who would never before have considered voting Trump, who are going to hold their noses and do it this election. Everybody's got their limit, and the Democrats have been letting their pet progressive extremists drag them out far beyond a lot of people's limits. I've been seeing an awful lot of Dave Rubin-style "I used to be a liberal, my views haven't changed, but all of a sudden now I'm a conservative because I can't buy into x thing that I hadn't even heard of until five minutes ago" or "I really personally dislike Trump, but the left has lost its f***ing mind and must be stopped." Couple that with the recent poll finding that 60-odd% of Americans are afraid to say what they really think in public for fear it'll affect their employment prospects (I'd interpret that number much higher, because it only counts people who will talk to pollsters-- i.e. it vastly over-represents people who trust strangers not to doxx them or otherwise misuse their information.)

I don't think anyone has a good handle on which way this election will go.

John said...

Certain democrats have gone far out on the left but Joe Biden is not one of them.

Mário R. Gonçalves said...

Joe Biden is quite moderate and extremely correct, I think he is a winner, if not for his program at least by contrast. I only regret that aged candidates continue to be the most probable winners. Trump has better prepare for defeat until never again, I don't see any ethnic group voting for him, nor youth, nor women. He keeps only a minority of lower middle class country white subliterate.

David said...

Both parties are burdened by their far fringe. A question is, who is more closely associated with their fringe, Trump or Biden? FWIW, the impression I get is Biden has been fairly effective at distancing himself from the far left (unless one is the sort of person who thinks that any tax increase, for example, is a far left policy).

But maybe that's not the most important question when it comes down to individual voters.

I wonder if voters who decide based on concern about far fringes, will choose less on the basis of which candidate seems closer to their respective bad fringe, than which fringe in itself bothers them (the voter) more. I suspect a lot of those moving to Trump because of the far left are folks who are simply more troubled by antifa and AOC than they are by QAnon and Tucker Carlson. Voters already deeply troubled by the far right are going to say to themselves, "Antifa is a weak fringe and has no power, but QAnon scares me. I'm going to vote for Biden." And the opposite for Trump.

Since both fringes have been there for a long time, I suspect voters troubled by the one fringe or another were already pretty much committed to the party opposite to the fringe they are most afraid of. Some who vote primarily as anti-leftists might vote for an ultra-conservative Democrat or two, but the Dems were never going to run a presidential candidate like that anyway.

JustPeachy said...

Wow. You guys really need to get out more. Do you personally know and talk to *any* truck drivers, welders, security guards, fishermen, linemen, janitors, repairmen... or even just people who wear hard hats at work? Like, know them well enough they'd tell you what they actually think about any political topic? Do you have any idea how much of the population they make up, compared to professional-managerial types? Or how dependent you are on them?

Non-degree-holding working people *hate* Joe Biden. He is the most perfect possible representative of everything that is wrong with DC politics. He will retire from office far richer than his paycheck made him. If you're Joe Biden's son, you don't have to follow the straight and narrow to succeed in life: you can screw your sister-in-law, do drugs, and father an illegitimate kid with a stripper, and still sit on the board of a foreign energy company and make more money per month than the rest of us make in a year. 90% of the rest of us sods, if we behaved the same way, would go to jail, be unemployable in all but the most menial jobs (criminal record), and then be bled dry by child support.

"But but but, wiki says that daddy didn't get him that job! It's a right-wing conspiracy theory!" you say. Do you actually believe that? Nobody else does. We all know perfectly well that the kind of job that Hunter Biden can get is totally unavailable to us and our kids.

"But Trump is a rich man too! He hired his kids! I caught you in a logical fallacy, nanner nanner nanner!!" You say, completely missing the point. That doesn't matter. Trump isn't part of your club. He was hired by your kitchen staff to smash up your trophy case and piss on your nice carpet, because you sneer at them and short their paychecks. Trump's been doing exactly what he was hired to do. True or not, it is widely believed that the Democrats are deliberately inciting riots and trying to keep the economy in the crapper until November, because "bad economy and civil unrest is bad for the incumbent". Can y'all even see how that looks, to the rest of us?

In what way would Biden serve our interests better?

G. Verloren said...

It still drives me crazy that people 1) think Antifa is a group, organization, or cohesive entity of some sort instead of a broader political stance / movement and 2) think being Anti-Fascist is in any way objectionable.

We spent the past 80 years collectively agreeing that Fascists have no place in American society, and now we have people who are less scared of actual Fascists than they are of people who oppose them. Fascists tried to conquer the world, stamp out Democracy, and exterminate entire peoples, and yet some modern Americans object to the idea of people violently opposing them? Insanity.

Mário R. Gonçalves said...

Yes, you should think much about that, Verloren. If it drives you crazy and see it as insanity, either 1) it's you who are crazy or insane or 2) you are blind. Because it is quite easy to understand why people don't react to Trump and his court as fascists: because they aren't. And those who attack them as fascists will loose, and get crazy or insane, because they fight for an erroneous, misjudged case. Worse: you are diminishing the true character and style of acting of fascists if they ever come.

You, men, you in the States, know nothing, just nothing, about fascism. You should be grateful to men like Biden (though I would not vote for him) who have common sense and a more tranquil vision of what is happening. What is happening, sir, is Democracy, even if you don't like it - a rotten Democracy, maybe , but still.

David said...

@Mário R. Gonçalves

You seem to be assuming that, if a movement enjoys significant popular support, by definition it is not fascist. In fact historical fascist movements, including Mussolini's, Hitler's and Franco's, all enjoyed significant popular support at one time or another, Hitler's quite impressively so, and with great self-sacrifice on the part of the German people, all the way to the end. Likewise Stalinist Communists parties in France and Italy could rack up millions of votes in the late 40s and 50s.

The fact is, ordinary people often support authoritarian solutions. Sometimes that support forms a democratic majority, or at least a significant, impossible-to-ignore minority. That "democratic" support does not make the solutions less authoritarian (or IMHO, less bad).

That said, in the case of the States, I think you're right that the essential problem is less a specific ideology (like fascsism) than a sickness in our democracy. There's clearly a lot of rage and hostility out there. A lot of folks seem to have voted for Trump, and plan to do so again, not because of any policy he offers, but because they love watching him piss on the liberals.

The support for Biden does make me *a little* optimistic. I think a lot of voters are wanting him because he doesn't seem inclined to piss on anybody.

G. Verloren said...


No you think people voted for Hitler because of specific policies? No, they voted for him emotionally, out of spite for groups they hated, because he promised to hurt those people.

That's part of the very foundation of fascism - it elevates the "self" by waging war on the "other". They called themselves -National- Socialists, because their entire goal was serving "the nation", at the direct expense of literally everyone else. Dissenters were othered, labelled as traitors or under the sway of foreigners. People of "impure" ancestry were othered, even when they were staunchly loyal to the cause. Anyone who it was politically convenient to turn on was deemed "No True Scotsman" (or rather, German) and removed from the ranks of "Us" and swept into the company of "Them", without regard for truth or reality. And of course, anything not "German" or "Aryan" enough was automatically deemed inferior or evil.

The sort people who vote for Trump to "own the libs" are the same sort of people who voted for Hitler to "find a final solution to the Jewish question", or for Mussolini to "put the Communists and Anarchists in their place".

Fear of the other, support for a strongman ruler who claims he alone can "drain the swamp", open calls for political violence against opposition figures while demonizing peaceful dissent and protest, decrying unsupportive media as "Lügenpresse", the promulgation of armed militias, open racism and xenophobia...

...if it looks like a Nazi, talks like a Nazi, and goosesteps like a Nazi...

There is no such thing as ideological purity in Fascism. You don't define a Fascist primarily by their stance on government policy, as that varies wildly, but by their behavior in pursuing their politics, which remains constant.

Mário R. Gonçalves said...

Completely wrong. Just two examples:
1 - Hitler won the elections because Germany was being humiliated, to a point that the standard of living went down to general poverty. That was caused, curiously, by vindictive, anti-German politics in Europe. The (democratic) European powers decided to humiliate Germany, and the nationalist surge was the response. Hitler won by a collective (not individualist!) need of change and of restoring pride. Who created the 'US vs. Them' question were the European States, not the Nazis. As for Mussolini, the fear of Communism was more than reasonable, I don't know if the fate of Italy would have been any better otherwise.
2 - fascism elevates the "self" by waging war on the "other"
Nonsense! Complete bullsh..
Fascism is a collective, massive, ideology, it smashes any individualism, any 'me' out of the 'us'. And it is somehow, in its way, altruist, I mean, not self-centred - everything is secondary and sacrificed to the Nation, it's utmost Divinity. That's why 'Nazi - nazional socialistische. Socialist, than.

Once again, bananas, Mr Verloren.

szopeno said...

Modern antifa is not "anti-fascism". In my country ten years ago antifas had their own webpage where they boasted beating people who "looked like nationalists", including one girl who had just dressed wrongly. They are like communists in my country, who were anti-fascists all-right, except they also declared Home Army soldiers "fascists" and were holding them in camps inherited from Nazis.