Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Fix

Why Donald Trump should be careful about that whole 'woman card' thing

By Philip Bump

April 27, 2016 at 10:12 AM

Donald Trump and his wife Melania pose for photographers on the red carpet as they arrive for the TIME 100 Gala in Manhattan, New York, April 26, 2016. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

From the lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday night, where a few months ago he stood alone behind a lectern to announce his candidacy, Donald Trump declared victory -- not just in the night's elections, but overall. He announced that he was his party's presumptive nominee, and rather than railing against Ted Cruz and John Kasich, he turned his attention to the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

"The only card she has is the woman's card; she's got nothing else going," he said. "And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the women's card. And the beautiful thing is, women don't like her. And look how well I did with women tonight!"

In contrast to when he made his campaign announcement, Trump on Tuesday night was surrounded by other people. One of them was Mary Pat Christie, wife of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has endorsed Trump. And when Trump made the comments above, Mary Pat Christie appeared to react.

Whether or not that was a full-fledged eyeroll is subject to debate. But it's not debatable that the comments deserved an eyeroll, for a variety of reasons.

Donald Trump had a good night on Tuesday, but so did Clinton. She won four of five states, including the big prizes of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Her success seemed to prompt Bernie Sanders to all but concede defeat.

She has gotten to this point not only on the strength of her support from women, but also thanks to her support from men. In states for which we have exit poll results, Clinton beat Sanders or tied him among male voters in 12 of 25 contests.

If you took only the male vote in those states and divvied up the delegates proportionally, Clinton would still be leading Sanders, by about 150 delegates. Without women casting a single vote.

It's true that Trump won with women on Tuesday night, but that doesn't tell us much of anything. As we've pointed out in the past, Trump does worse with women than men even within his own party, as he did on Tuesday night. We have exit poll data reported by CNN from three states. In all three, Trump did worse with women than with men.

That's only among Republicans. In Washington Post/ABC News polling in March, Clinton's favorability and unfavorability ratings among women were about even. Trump's were much, much worse -- and have gotten worse over time, thanks to the number of women who have "strongly unfavorable" views of him topping 60 percent.

We don't have to rely on favorability data, though. We can look at polling data, which consistently shows that Trump is not stronger among women. In those polls, he loses to Clinton among women in a theoretical general election match-up -- and by a wide margin. A Fox News poll from earlier this month had Clinton at 55 percent among women, to Trump's 33 percent.

More alarming to Republicans is that Trump even loses among white women, a group that has been with the Republican party in every election since 1972 -- save the two cycles in which Bill Clinton was on the ticket.

Trump trails Clinton by 7 points among white women in the most recent Post/ABC poll. Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama with that group by 12 points.

The businessman appears to want to chalk this up to Clinton's "woman card." But given that he's less popular with women in his own party, the problem is more likely that Trump keeps playing the Trump card, and that women aren't exciting about what they see when he does.


Philip Bump is a correspondent for The Post based in New York.

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