Trump Is Botching His Already Dismal Shot With Women Voters

After a month of misogynistic attacks on Nikki Haley, E. Jean Carroll, and Taylor Swift, the ex-president’s poll numbers among women dropped five percentage points.Published Feb. 01, 2024 9:06PM EST opinionPhoto Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/ReutersIf Donald Trump doesn’t change his campaign’s trajectory, the voter gender gap will be a gender grand canyon by November, as hordes

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After a month of misogynistic attacks on Nikki Haley, E. Jean Carroll, and Taylor Swift, the ex-president’s poll numbers among women dropped five percentage points.

Matt Lewis

opinion

A photo illustration of Nikki Haley, Donald Trump, and Taylor Swift.

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters

If Donald Trump doesn’t change his campaign’s trajectory, the voter gender gap will be a gender grand canyon by November, as hordes of women run screaming away from the presumptive nominee, earning Joe Biden a second term.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, 58 percent of female registered voters now support Biden—an increase that propelled Biden to a six-point lead against Trump in a hypothetical 2024 presidential matchup. As of Dec. 2023, Biden’s support among women was just 53 percent and has grown by five points in just the last month.

This raises an obvious question: What changed between December and January?

It’s not absurd to think that three women have contributed to this abrupt shift: Nikki Haley, E. Jean Carroll, and Taylor Swift.

Let’s start with Haley—the Trump administration’s former UN ambassador and his only remaining GOP primary rival—whom Trump refers to as “birdbrain” and “Nimbra” (the name she was given at birth is “Nimarata”).

Haley was in the public spotlight for much of January, and she started taking off the gloves just after losing the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23—which was just two days before this poll began.

Whether it’s sexism or one of a million other reasons not to support Trump, nearly half of Haley’s Iowa supporters said they’d vote for Biden over Trump. This is to say that Trump’s behavior hasn’t merely radicalized young progressive feminists; he has also alienated a good chunk of Republicans—many of whom are presumably women who are otherwise open to voting for a GOP candidate.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign rally at the Doc’s Barbeque and Southern Buffet restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

“He won’t get women voters who are swing voters,” Juliana Bergeron, a New Hampshire Republican National Committee member, told The Hill. “I think there might be more women voters that are Republicans that he won’t get either. If it were to be a close election, yes, his comments could sway it.”

While the Quinnipiac survey was in the field, something else happened: A jury awarded Carroll an additional $83.3 million in a defamation case (basically, they determined that Trump defamed her by calling her a liar after he was found liable for sexual assault).

Technically, Trump was found liable for sexual abuse, but according to Judge Louis A. Kaplan, “The finding that Ms. Carroll failed to prove that she was ‘raped’ within the meaning of the New York Penal Law does not mean that she failed to prove that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape’…” Judge Kaplan added, “Indeed, as the evidence at trial recounted below makes clear, the jury found that Mr. Trump in fact did exactly that.”

The last ingredient here is pop superstar Taylor Swift, arguably the most popular figure in America. She’s now being accused by Trump fans of being part of a “Deep State” conspiracy to elect Biden (Trump allies are reportedly now promising a “Holy War” against her).

Choosing to attack Swift was, shall we say, unwise. But it’s the kind of thing you sign up for when you nominate Trump to head your party.

E. Jean Carroll arrives for her civil defamation trial against former President Donald Trump.

E. Jean Carroll arrives for her civil defamation trial against former President Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

As former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau put it on X: “The real psyop here is that we somehow got all these right-wing weirdos to rage against America’s most popular sport and America’s most popular entertainer—in an election year! Keep it coming, freaks!”

But did choosing a powerful enemy sway the results of this latest survey?

The recent round of paranoia about Swift reached its peak as the Kansas City Chiefs (her boyfriend’s team) defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game on Jan. 28 (again, the survey was conducted from Jan. 25-29).

What this timeframe suggests is that this topic was intensely relevant—but only for a small percentage of survey participants. As such, my guess is that the gender gap today would probably be even wider than this poll demonstrates. What is more, Swift’s greatest weapon might be her ability to help register new voters who, by definition, were not captured in the Quinnipiac survey of registered voters.

The usual caveats apply: This is just one poll, and it’s always possible this is an outlier. But make no mistake, with the margins as narrow as they are (Biden won the 2020 election by less than 45,000 votes in three states), Trump’s alienation of women could be the difference between winning and losing.

For example, the percentage of women currently supporting Biden (58 percent) is slightly larger than the percentage of women who supported Biden’s 2020 victory (57 percent).

This, of course, underscores the stupidity of saying and doing things that are sure to lose female voters.

Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with Taylor Swift.

Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with Taylor Swift after defeating the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

While political strategists rightly obsess about micro-demographic targeting—“why do Hispanic men in Beaumont who watch Japanese anime hate us?”—women literally constitute a majority of the U.S. population.

And they are statistically more likely to vote in a presidential election, to boot.

“The gender demographic tells a story to keep an eye on,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy. “Propelled by female voters in just the past few weeks, the head-to-head tie with Trump morphs into a modest lead for Biden.”

To be sure, the politics gender gap has long been with us (and is now an international phenomenon), and Trump has long tempted fate when it comes to alienating women voters (the Access Hollywood video, his sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly having “blood coming out of her wherever,” and the Dobbs abortion ruling).

Again, though, all of these examples long predate the polling shift that took place in January.

While the prominence of Haley, Carroll, and Swift are surely part of the story, January was also the month when it became clear that Donald Trump would likely be the Republican nominee.

Could it be that reality has simply set in with rank-in-file voters?

For those of us who follow politics closely, Trump being the presumptive nominee isn’t terribly surprising. But political junkies aren’t normal.

It may well turn out that January was the month when many average female voters stopped seeing Trump as a “generic GOP candidate X,” and instead began seeing him for who he really is: A misogynistic piece of shit with no redeeming qualities.

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