President Trump was widely mocked for a hair-on-fire tweet on Thursday:

Apparently neither he nor anyone on his campaign knows much about suburban women. Let me help:

  1. “Housewife” may have been a popular term in the 1950s (which, it seems, is approximately when Trump imagines America was at its greatest — pre-civil rights, pre-women’s rights, pre-globalization) — but, for decades, it has been a condescending term that denigrates women who choose not to leave the house for work. (I’m old enough to remember when Republicans used to claim Democrats did not respect women who did not work outside the home.)
  2. Trump’s screeching tone comically attempts to scare women, imagining they are easily frightened and susceptible to crude political manipulation and racist dog whistles (“destroy neighborhoods” is code for bringing the “wrong people” into the neighborhood).
  3. Nothing in Trump’s appeal remotely addresses what does alarm women: the unchecked spread of coronavirus; an economic collapse; Trump bullying them to send kids back to school during a pandemic; Trump-directed clashes between police and demonstrators; and Trump’s constant attempts to inflame racial animosity. It is not former vice president Joe Biden who inspires fear and dread; it is Trump who raises their blood pressure and creates havoc in their lives.
  4. Trump’s promise to make things better raises an awkward problem for his reelection effort: Aren’t things much worse than when he took over? He is pitching to women whose children’s education has been disrupted, whose family finances are less secure, and who fear for their health and for the health of their families.
  5. His tweet, reminiscent of his “I alone can fix it” line from 2016 reminds many women of his know-it-all attitude and exaggerated sense to worth and accomplishment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently said that Trump is like the guy who will not ask for directions. Now, we see Trump as the guy who passes a cognitive assessment test and thinks he is a genius. He is a caricature of male ego and bluster many women have confronted their entire lives.

White women, college-educated women, suburban women, non-college-educated women — really any cross section of women you come up with — like Trump less than their male counterparts. As a whole, Trump’s support among women has cratered since 2016, especially but not exclusively among white, college-educated women.

Creating conflict in cities, stirring racial unrest and then promising to protect people from that unrest is a flawed strategy. As the Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein recently explained:

The political risk for Republicans in that strategy, many political observers told me, is not only that it could provoke more opposition from residents in the city centers, but that it could also accelerate the shift toward Democrats in the large, well-educated, and more and more diverse inner suburbs around the major cities. Over time, the “larger denser suburbs” have become “like cities and throw in with the cities” — they don’t identify as much with the less-populated areas. . . . His belligerent tone simultaneously risks hardening the opposition he’s facing from the many suburban voters who feel that he’s exposing them to more danger — both in his response to the policing protests and his unrelenting push to reopen the economy despite the coronavirus’s resurgence.

Imagine some suburban women presented with two messages: Trump’s Twitter blast and (released on the same day) a video of Biden and former President Barack Obama sitting in an office, quietly discussing the demands of crisis leadership and the need to rebuild the country by doing things such as helping with child care. In contrast to the obnoxious, hilariously ignorant president, the two Democrats engage in cordial conversation, serving up a comfort blend of technocratic expertise and empathy. (As the New York Times said of the video: “The reunion’s reliable, the-adults-are-in-the-room placidity suggests how the Biden campaign might counter the agitating theatrics of his opponent . . . [T]he video suggested, Mr. Biden’s campaign will make familiarity an asset, packaging him as TV comfort food.")

Trump plays perfectly into the contrast Biden seeks to create. Horror movie or “TV comfort food”? The candidate who tells you “Everything is going to be fine” or the candidate screaming, “The other guy is going to bring monsters into your neighborhood!” Female voters are vastly more savvy than Trump’s campaign believes; look for the gender gap to be among the largest in presidential history.

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The jockeying for the post-Trump future of the Republican Party has started, says Post columnist Max Boot. (The Washington Post)

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