Politico reports that the Trump campaign is preparing to launch a major nationwide push to bring suburban women back into President Trump’s fold. Among the ideas being planned: a massive effort to train female volunteers to be advocates for Trump in their communities, and relentlessly spotlighting the low unemployment rate among women.
But let’s focus on a specific argument the Trump camp is making about this topic, because far from projecting confidence, it suggests the opposite. Trump advisers are claiming there is a hidden suburban-women-for-Trump vote out there that isn’t registering in polls.
Buried toward the end of the Politico piece, we get this:
Campaign aides and officials involved with America First Action, the pro-Trump super PAC, have argued that negative numbers with women are the result of polling data that doesn’t account for the so-called hidden Trump voter: suburban women who favor Trump but deliberately keep their support private.
Trump campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany sums up the argument this way: “I’m confident there are a number of female voters out there who don’t talk to pollsters and don’t register in polls but support the president."
We should be reluctant to mock this idea, given what happened in 2016. But here’s what we can be certain of right now: There is no way in heck that the president’s advisers are actually “confident” that this is the case, nor are they “confident" in their ability to solve the suburban-women problem to the degree Trump likely needs.
For one thing, right now, Trump’s polling among women more broadly is simply abysmal. The latest Quinnipiac poll doesn’t break out suburban women, but it finds that only 34 percent of women overall approve of the job Trump is doing, compared with 61 percent who disapprove; among white women, only 40 percent approve while 56 percent disapprove.
Thirty-nine percent of college-educated white voters of both genders approve of Trump, while 58 percent disapprove. You can be certain that Trump’s numbers among college-educated white women — who overlap heavily with the sort of suburban women the Trump campaign wants to win back — are simply terrible.
A new NBC News poll is more precise on this point. The good folks at NBC sent me these numbers: Among suburban women, Trump’s rating is 36 percent approve to 61 percent disapprove. And suburban women prefer a generic Democratic candidate to Trump by 61 percent to 32 percent.
Meanwhile, in the new Politico/Morning Consult poll, Trump’s approval among women is 39 percent, while 58 percent disapprove, 46 percent strongly. And among suburbanites, Trump’s approval is 43 percent, while 56 percent disapprove, 43 percent strongly. Put those together, and you probably have really bad numbers among suburban women — with a lot disapproving strongly.
So, for this supposed hidden suburban-women-for-Trump demographic to be meaningfully mitigating, it would have to be rather large.
Then there’s what happened in the 2018 midterm elections. As the Politico story notes:
Exit polls from CNN found that women backed Democratic candidates over Republicans by a margin of 19 percentage points in 2018, the largest gap in more than three decades. In Pennsylvania, 56 percent of suburban female voters surveyed on Election Day said they disapproved of Trump’s job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Since then, Trump himself has done little to turn this around. Indeed, if anything, the campaign’s own actions show that the president’s advisers are worrying about this problem behind his back.
Recently, Trump’s advisers got him to give a speech in which he pretended to care about the environment and the impact of climate change on future generations. The New York Times did some digging and learned that the Trump campaign’s internal polling was showing that the president’s record on the environment was looming as an obstacle for him among two key demographics: millennials and — you guessed it — suburban women.
Trump himself doesn’t appear to think this is why he gave the speech. He recently boasted that his base is “phenomenal,” and, when asked whether he needed to expand his appeal beyond it, said: “I think my base is so strong, I’m not sure that I have to do that.”
But his own campaign advisers don’t believe this, and suburban women are a key reason why. The campaign’s own internal polling shows this.
There’s a long way to go, and anything can happen. But the notion that the Trump campaign is “confident” in a hidden-suburban-women-for-Trump vote as a true mitigating factor is laughable.