After the vice-presidential debate Tuesday, Fox News's Megyn Kelly sat down with Kellyanne Conway, perhaps alerted to the presence of Donald Trump's campaign manager thanks to the candidate's tweet. Toward the end of the segment, Conway noted that Hillary Clinton is barely earning half of the vote from women.
Here was their conversation, with some interludes.
CONWAY: Why in the new CNN poll is Hillary Clinton at 53 percent among women? She's running as the first female president. There's something holding her back, and I frankly think . . .
KELLY: She's beating Donald Trump by some 20 points with women. I mean, why is Donald Trump at 32 percent?
CONWAY: In some polls. Not really. Not in all polls.
Conway is correct that CNN's most recent poll shows Clinton getting 53 percent of the vote with women. That's a 13-point margin, with Trump earning 40 percent of the vote.
Kelly's right, though, that the margin among women has often been wider. A more recent poll from CBS News gives Clinton an 18-point lead with women. In that poll, Trump's at 33-percent support.
Polls differ! In the most recent Washington Post-ABC polling, Clinton has a 15-point lead over Trump — but in August, it was 23 points.
So Kelly added some historical context. We continue:
CONWAY: But she's got a gender gap of her own.
KELLY: She does. She does. She's losing with . . . she has a huge gap. There's absolutely, absolutely no question about that, but you're sitting here suggesting, why are her numbers low with women and you work for Donald Trump!
CONWAY: She's the first female president! [Ed. — Not quite yet.]
KELLY: His numbers are historically low for a Republican nominee with women. Historically low.
CONWAY: Well, Mitt Romney lost women by 13 — by 11 points and John McCain lost by 13.
KELLY: Mitt Romney's numbers are crushing Donald Trump's numbers with women. Crushing them.
Here's a ton of data.
The two columns of charts show historic and recent polling pitting the Republican vs. the Democratic candidate in a presidential contest. (The first 11 columns within the graphs are exit polls from 1972 to 2012; the last three are Post-ABC poll results from July, August and September.) The charts on the left show the actual vote preference for the demographic group. The charts on the right show the relative preference. So if white men preferred McCain in 2008 by 10 points but then-Sen. Barack Obama won by 5, the relative support from white men would be 15 points toward the Republican.
A few things to notice, in light of the Kelly and Conway conversation. First, the light blue columns for women dip lower than in any year since at least 1996. Relative to the results in those years, though, this year's light blue lines do indeed dip lower than any past contest. But to Conway's point, the light-red columns for men extend upward to a greater extent than in the past.
When we isolate white men and women, the difference is more stark. White men have been voting more heavily for the Republican in recent contests, and this year seem poised to bring a new high in that margin. Over the past two months, that support has grown. Among white women, though, Trump's breaking with the recent trend to Republicans. He's losing support with that group in recent polls, and while the trend would suggest that Trump should outperform Romney with white women, he's doing far worse. He may not win the group at all.
That's the split between Kelly and Conway. Kelly is highlighting that dip with women; Conway, the surge with men.
CONWAY: It's not Election Day yet! Why are we winning Ohio and Iowa and states that he lost . . .
KELLY: There's 35 days to go, Kellyanne! I mean, the criticism of Donald Trump is that he could win this race, and that he was doing well and he was rebounding and his numbers in various states were rebounding — and then he went after Miss Universe and talked about her being too fat and talked about women's looks again, and women don't like that, according to these polls.
Well, Trump isn't winning Ohio and Iowa because of his strong support from women. In the most recent Quinnipiac polls in those states, Trump trails by 12 points with women in Ohio and 10 points in Iowa. As with the national numbers, he's saved by wide support from men, leading by 27 and 26 points, respectively.
We noted earlier this week that it's white men who view Clinton the most negatively.
Conway asks why women aren't flocking to Clinton's candidacy, given that she would be the first female president. It's true that they aren't; in CNN-ORC's poll at the end of September 2012, Obama got 53 percent of the vote from women, too. It's worth asking, though, why men are so much more hostile to Clinton's candidacy.
Kelly and Conway didn't get to that.
CONWAY: I guess I would focus on why we're here, which is the vice-presidential debate. I thought Mike Pence did a fabulous job.
And with that, the conversation went elsewhere.