Trump and the female voter - what happened?
He has been described as a narcissist, an abuser of women and a sexist and although last night's exit polls do show that 54 per cent of women backed Clinton compared to 42 per cent for Trump it also shows that fewer women voted for Clinton in 2016 than for Obama in 2012. In the 2012 presidential race 55 per cent of women backed Obama while 44 per cent backed Romney. Despite all the headlines surrounding Trump, it seems they didn’t send the female vote into Clinton’s camp.
In the Sassista office we have come to the conclusion that it is not his charm and good looks, nor is it his policies as these seem to be thin on the ground or frankly unactable. So how did millions of women feel safer with a man who has referred to women as ‘slobs’ and ‘dogs’ than they did with Hillary Clinton – a woman, educated, liberal, packed with policies and, probably, the safer bet? One thing is sure – they’re not all stupid. So there has to be another reason or reasons.
Well, the media pundits as ever are looking for the single, simple answer. Rarely does one exist. We live in a complex world and most complex of all is the human condition. So do some of the following help explain?
Fear: Americans see themselves as, and desperately want to be, the leaders of the Western world and the biggest, most powerful economy. Their identity is wrapped up in size and economic power. People laugh at the research which found that a huge percentage of Americans, when asked to circle America on a world map, circle Russia and Europe because it is bigger. However, this says a lot about the psyche of a once omnipotent nation. Women who believe that their great country is falling into the pit of ‘the old world’ and ‘has-been economies’ think about the future for their children. Women in the rust-belt who see their men yearning for the old days of work and pride want someone to shout out their indignation. The establishment which has led them there is not a good option, even when led by a woman.
Threat: Drug-running Mexican rapists, ISIS-toting Muslims, criminal illegal immigrants are the stuff of nightmares. Like all nightmares there is a grain of reality which gets warped into a terrible vista of fear. Trump capitalised on this. Women are the victims of rapists, their children and families are threatened by drugs and terrorists. When Hillary Clinton delivered a measured, rationale response to these social issues she failed to offer protection from the strongly-believed threat. When you hear a woman say ‘We need to get back to God, Faith and Country and get back to raising children in the way it should be’, you have heard the fear of women.
Tradition: It is all so easy for career-interested, affluent, educated Sassistas to look on in shock and horror at that 53% of American women. However, there are huge tracts of America which adhere to traditional norms and hierarchies. They see men as breadwinners and the natural leaders. To them, women have a different role – rearing children, homemaking, giving care, gluing families and being the quiet backbone of the American dream. The clever game played by Milana Trump – being the glamorous, all American wife, made the Trumps look a pretty normal American family. To these women a woman president is an anathema to society. The fact that they did not trust Hillary Clinton – either for her e-mails or for allowing Bill to be a ‘hard dog to keep on the porch’, made her easy to reject. These women are real and valid and they made their choice.
Hope: Any human society which feels it is on the slippery slope looks for hope. Often that hope means a swing to the right and enthusiastic following of promised hope, no matter how unrealistic. It was witnessed in Europe after WW1, it happened in Russia, it has happened in the UK with Brexit, the right is rising in Europe again and now the USA. Greece, though lurching to the left, still followed extreme promises of refusing to pay their national debts. America has been losing ground on the world stage for years. Recession, war, the threat of emergent more flexible markets has led to a malaise in which everything seems to be getting a little bit worse every day. Donald Trump in his simplistic, drum-beating, outrageously even ludicrously positive belief in bringing America back into its dream gave women hope.
Safety: While it is painful to consider, we must face the sad fact that many of those women just did not feel safe with a woman at the helm. In exactly the same way people on an aeroplane get nervous when the captain is a woman; why women are not seen as Military General material (unless they have hidden gonads!); why women bread-winners are often looked upon with a little sympathy – men are seen as the natural holders of power by many American women. Yes, other economies are leading the way – Merkel in German, May in the UK, Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar – but these are not America, which is steeped in seeing safety in old world values. America has historically given women more legal power than any other country – but maybe women just did not want a Sassista with the ultimate power over their lives. A man, even a man like Trump, was seen as the natural leader.
Well, whatever the reason. He is heading for the White House. Hold onto your red hats.