Women Have A Problem With Donald Trump — And It's Huge | KERA News

Women Have A Problem With Donald Trump — And It's Huge

Apr 1, 2016
Originally published on April 7, 2016 1:55 pm

According to Donald Trump, he's got an amazing relationship with women.

"I respect women. I love women. I cherish women!" Trump said at political conference last year, but it's a version of a line he repeats often on the campaign trail.

His poll numbers and recent comments, though, tell a slightly different story. Trump's favorability numbers with female voters are low enough that they could cause a problem for him should he be the candidate in the general election.

The Republican front-runner's remarks this week that he is in favor of some form of punishment for women who have abortions sparked outrage from Democrats and Republicans alike. He has since walked back those comments.

But those are just the latest in a list of statements Trump detractors say are anti-women, which includes his attacks on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and his recent feud with rival Ted Cruz over their wives.

"It's a slap in the face to all kinds of women," said Chelsea Bashi, a 25-year-old Republican, who volunteers for Cruz's campaign. She doesn't believe Trump's assertion that he has a great relationship with women. Bashi says it hurt her personally when Trump retweeted an unflattering photo of Cruz's wife, Heidi, alongside a glamor shot of his wife, Melania, last month.

"First of all beauty shouldn't be defined by how you look. It should be defined by what you do for others," Bashi said. "A woman like [Heidi Cruz] should not be insulted."

Another Cruz supporter, Debbie Bennett, of Lee's Summit, Mo., says the way Trump talks about women is unpresidential.

"Women individually need to look at that and see if that's the kind of leader that they want. It's not the kind of leader that I want to lead my country or to represent me in foreign countries," Bennett said.

At Trump campaign rallies, however, you will find devoted female fans.

Jeanne Tarantino, a homemaker from Waukesha, Wis., said there are more important things to worry about than Trump offending someone.

"I think the bigger issue is the economy," Tarantino said, adding that today many women are the breadwinners for their families. "We need an economic recovery and if we don't do these things then my daughter's generation and the next generation after her, my grandchildren, will suffer the results."

Just over half of Republican women said they could support Trump in a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. That's significantly lower than his GOP rivals, but it might be enough for Trump to secure the Republican nomination.

But that's only half the battle. If Trump becomes the nominee, there's another number from that poll he'll have to contend with: 70 percent of women overall have an unfavorable view of him.

"It's not just that people don't like him a little bit — it's that there is such a strong number of strongly unfavorable women," Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson said.

She notes it has been historically difficult for Republicans to appeal to female voters.

"When you are looking at trying to win the White House and you're struggling so much with a majority of the electorate, which is what women represent, it makes it just very difficult to envision a clear path to the White House for someone like Donald Trump who has taken an already difficult situation for the GOP and made it significantly worse," Anderson said.

Don't expect Trump's statements on women to go away anytime soon. They are likely to show up repeatedly in attack ads, said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.

"He has been his own worst enemy with women. He's like your worst date ever — it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse as the evening goes on," Lake said.

Lake said she believes Trump could cause problems for Republicans down the ballot by motivating anti-Trump voters.

"I think if he's the nominee, you are going to see record numbers of women turning out and you're going to see record of numbers of women voting against him."

Women aren't Trump's only demographic challenge. He is also deeply unpopular with minority and younger voters — who tend to lean Democratic. Trump's task, if he's the Republican nominee, will be to inspire enough supporters in a deeply divided GOP to offset that — and again defy the odds.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Donald Trump loves to read off his poll numbers at his campaign rallies. One rating you probably won't hear him quote is his favorability among female voters. It's something that could be a big problem for him in November if he's the Republican nominee. Here's NPR's Sarah McCammon.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: If you ask Donald Trump, his feelings about women are simple.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I respect women. I love women. I cherish women.

MCCAMMON: But many women aren't buying that. In just the past couple of weeks, Trump has continued a long-running feud with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, he's walked back a comment suggesting that if abortion were banned he'd favor punishing women who have abortions, and then there was the battle with Texas Senator Ted Cruz over their wives.

CHELSEA BASHI: It is a slap in the face to all kinds of women.

MCCAMMON: Twenty-five-year-old Chelsea Bashi is a Republican who says that she was offended when Trump re-tweeted an unflattering photo of Cruz's wife, Heidi, alongside a modeling photo of his wife, Melania.

BASHI: First of all, beauty shouldn't be defined by how you look. It should be defined by what you do for others. A woman like her should not be insulted.

MCCAMMON: Bashi came from Pennsylvania to volunteer for the Cruz campaign in Wisconsin, where there's a primary on Tuesday. She says she'd write-in Ted Cruz on the general election ballot before she'd ever vote for Trump. Debbie Bennett, a Cruz supporter from Lee's Summit, Mo., says the way Trump talks about women is un-presidential.

DEBBIE BENNETT: Women individually need to look at that and see if that's the kind of leader that they want. It's not the kind of leader that I want.

MCCAMMON: But at Trump campaign rallies, you'll find devoted female fans. Jeanne Tarantino is a homemaker from Waukesha, Wis. She says there are more important things to worry about than Trump offending someone.

JEANNE TARANTINO: We need an economic recovery, and if we don't do these things then my daughter's generation and the next generation after her, my grandchildren, will suffer the results.

MCCAMMON: Just over half of Republican women said they could support Trump in a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. That's significantly lower than his GOP rivals, but it might be enough to get the nomination. That's only half the battle. If Trump becomes the nominee, there's another number from that poll he'll have to contend with - 70 percent of women overall have an unfavorable view of him. Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson says Trump's unpopularity with women is already pretty entrenched.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON: It's not just that people don't like him a little bit, it's that there are such a strong number of strongly unfavorable women.

MCCAMMON: And she points out that it's historically been difficult for Republicans to appeal to female voters.

ANDERSON: A majority of the electorate, which is what women represent. It makes it just very difficult to envision a clear path to the White House for someone like Donald Trump, who has taken an already difficult situation for the GOP and made it significantly worse.

MCCAMMON: So get ready for Trump's statements on women over the last several months to show up again and again in attack ads, says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.

CELINDA LAKE: He has been his own worst enemy with women. He's like your worst date ever. It just keeps getting worse and worse and worse as the evening goes on.

MCCAMMON: Lake says she believes Trump could also cause problems for Republicans further down the ticket by motivating anti-Trump voters.

LAKE: I think if he's the nominee, you're going to see record numbers of women turn out and you're going to see record numbers of women vote against him.

MCCAMMON: And women aren't Trump's only demographic challenge. He's also deeply unpopular with minority and younger voters, who tend to lean Democratic. Trump's task, if he's the Republican nominee, would be to inspire enough supporters in a deeply divided party to offset that and again defy the odds. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Madison, Wis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.