When it comes to Donald Trump’s women problems, the top-line polling numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.
The real estate mogul’s sexist rhetoric coupled with his clumsy posturing on policy issues that already hamstrung Republicans with female voters have exacerbated a gender gap that helped President Obama defeat Mitt Romney in 2012.
It’s no secret that Trump — whose latest antagonization was his insistence Tuesday night that Hillary Clinton was relying on the “woman card” — is turning off women in huge numbers. But Trump is not just angering the women who were maybe leaning Democratic anyway.
Current polling shows Trump is turning off the subset of women voters who are typically up for grabs in elections and who in other cycles have swung races towards Republicans. He is even alienating the type of dependable Republican female voters who turned out for Romney the last time around. To make matters worse for him, Trump’s deficit among women are blunting some of the vulnerabilities Clinton would be facing if pitted against a less controversial Republican.
The gender gap in a Trump v. Clinton match-up is different from the gender gap in previous elections, according to Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster and co-host of the podcast “The Pollsters.”
“Sometimes when you look at overall what’s happening, people will say, ‘Well women think this and men think this,’ and sometimes it’s because of party rather than because of gender,” Omero told TPM. “When it comes to Trump it’s actually both. He’s got a gender problem even within his own party.”
For decades, women have made up a majority of the electorate. Elections have featured a consistent gender gap where men lean Republican and women Democrat. Republicans can only be successful when their advantage among men is greater than their deficit among women.
Trump’s deficit among women is enormous and getting worse. Per Gallup’s tracking, 70 percent of women view him unfavorably, up from 58 percent last July. Trump’s problem looks even more dire when broken down by the subsets women that are typically in play or can depended on by Republicans.
Married women, who turned out for Mitt Romney over Obama by 53 percent to 46 percent, have an overwhelmingly negative view of Trump. Seventy percent of them view Trump unfavorably, according to Purple Slice online poll conducted by Purple Strategies for Bloomberg Politics and released earlier this month.
Married women choose Clinton over Trump 48 percent to 36 percent. (The married female vote would be split 43-to-43 percent if Clinton was facing Cruz, according to the poll.)
“There’s a 21-point gap between where [Trump] is and where he needs to be just to match Romney, who lost,” Douglas Usher, a pollster for Purple Strategies, told TPM.
An early April Democracy Corps poll conducted for the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund found numbers not quite as ugly but still troubling for Trump. He beat Clinton among married women, but by only 3 percentage points. Meanwhile, Clinton slaughtered him among unmarried women 73 percent to 21 percent.
“Married women are supporting Trump by a slight margin and unmarried women are giving Hillary Clinton a 52-point advantage. That’s huge,” said Page Gardner, president of the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund.
While Trump’s problems with minorities voters are well-known, he could lose the advantage Republican had with white females in 2012. Despite a record-setting gender gap overall, Romney was still able to win among white women, 56 percent to Obama 42 percent. (Obama meanwhile won 96 percent of black women and 76 of Hispanic women).
According to a Washington Post poll from this month, 66 percent of white women view Trump unfavorably, and 55 percent of them very unfavorably.
“Overall, in the general election, he is not where he needs be among white women,” Usher said.
On top of that, female voters’ resistance to Trump is helping Clinton where she might have otherwise been vulnerable. For instance, she has a 3 percent favorability deficit among women, according to Gallup, which might be concerning if she wasn’t likely running against Trump, who is facing a 47-point unfavorabilty gap among women. That easily offsets the 20-point favorability deficit Clinton faces with male voters, who also view Trump unfavorably by a 22-point spread.
Trump’s women issues are also driving up Clinton numbers among young people, who have been skeptical of Clinton in her primary race against Sanders. For instance, in a generic match-up, young women support a Democrat over a Republican by a 33-point margin, according to a Harvard Institute of Politics poll of 18- to 29-year-old likely voters released this week. But once young voters are asked to chose between Trump and Clinton, the spread among young women increases to 42 points. (For comparison, the advantage Democrats have among young men increases by only half that, from 18 points in a generic matchup to 22 points in a Clinton v. Trump contest).
“He’s well behind even where [2008 GOP nominee John] McCain was among younger voters and younger women in particular,” Usher said, referring to the Harvard Institute of Politics Poll
One other place Trump’s anti-women rhetoric is costing him is with the very demographic that supposedly makes up his base of support: the white working class. He is still winning among white working class female voters, but by far slimmer margins than Republicans in the past.
The Democracy Corps poll showed that, while Clinton is doing 5 points worse than Obama in 2012 among white non-college educated men, Trump’s support among their female counterparts is four percentage points less than what Romney earned.
“As Hillary Clinton loses support among white non-college men, that’s made up by her gaining support from white non-college women,” Gardner said.