The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Stephen Moore’s views are controversial. But polling shows they aren’t uncommon among Trump supporters.

Stephen Moore, visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, might lose his nomination to the Federal Reserve Board in light of past writings. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Conservative political commentator Stephen Moore, President Trump’s pick for the Federal Reserve, is facing quite a bit of scrutiny for past statements about women, black Americans and others. Many Republican senators have expressed concern that Trump’s plan to nominate Moore is “on the edge of failure,” according to my colleagues.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress, said it was “very unlikely that I would support that person.” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said in an interview Wednesday that Moore’s confirmation would be a “very heavy lift.”

Many Trump voters, however, agree with some of Moore’s most controversial comments.

Moore has come under fire his comments about women in the workplace. In 2000, for example, he suggested on C-Span that allowing wives to work was dangerous. “The male needs to be the breadwinner,” he said. “One reason you’ve seen decline of the family, not just in the black community but now in the white community as well, is because women are more economically self-sufficient.”

Republican senators may not agree with that remark, but many Trump voters do. According to the University of Michigan’s 2016 American National Election Studies poll, 47 percent of white female Trump supporters said it is better “for the family as a whole if the man works outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.”

In a 2000 National Review column, Moore mocked female athletes, suggesting it was unfair that they expected to be paid as well as their male colleagues when “there are hundreds of men at the collegiate level . . . who could beat them handily.” In another 2002 piece, he suggested women should be banned from the March Madness basketball tournament, along with other traditionally male events and spaces.

“Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women?” he wrote. “What’s next? Women invited to bachelor parties? Women in combat? (Oh yeah, they’ve done that already.)”

That perspective is echoed by Americans in groups that traditionally support Trump. As I previously wrote for the Fix, a “cultural shift that Trump and many of his supporters find problematic is how differently society views gender norms these days.”

A 2016 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, in partnership with the Atlantic, found that nearly half — 45 percent — of non-college-educated white women and nearly six in 10 white evangelical women — groups that overwhelmingly backed Trump — believe “society is better off when men and women stick to the jobs and tasks they are naturally suited for.”

Moore has also been criticized for telling racist jokes that play on stereotypes about black Americans. At a 2016 talk on health care, he took a jab at the country’s first black president. “By the way, did you see, there’s that great cartoon going along?” he told the crowd. “A New York Times headline: ‘First Thing Donald Trump Does as President Is Kick a Black Family Out of Public Housing,’ and it has Obama leaving the White House. I mean, I just love that one. Just a great one.”

That sentiment seems to echo views held by many Trump voters. Multiple studies since 2016 have shown that negative views toward racial minorities were one reason many voters supported Trump, who is often criticized for perpetuating racist stereotypes. A 2016 study by political scientists at Princeton University and the University of California at Los Angeles found that “a non-trivial number of both working-class and non-working-class white voters did switch their votes in the 2016 election and that this vote switching was associated more with racial and immigration attitudes than economic factors.”

Moore’s confirmation is far from certain. But it’s clear the views that potentially doom a Fed nomination are shared by some of most loyal voters backing the current president of the United States.