If Donald Trump were a car, he would be a Porsche. If he were an animal, he’d be a lion. And people like Porsches and lions.
Or, at least, “Walmart moms” do, according to a focus group of Republican primary-voting Walmart moms conducted this past week in Pittsburgh by Democratic pollster Margie Omero and Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. (Walmart moms are defined as women who have children younger than 18 at home and have gone to the store at least once in the past month. The focus groups — the two pollsters did another one with swing moms in suburban Philadelphia — were funded by Walmart.)
“Characterizing Donald Trump as a type of car or animal resulted in some fascinating descriptions — from the GOP group, women depicted him as a Porsche, a Ferrari, a muscle car, a boxer who stands his ground, a bulldog, an Escalade, a lion (fierce and king of the jungle) and as an unpredictable cat,” Newhouse and Omero wrote in a memo summarizing the results. “These Moms praised him as someone who speaks his mind, stands his ground, and is refreshingly politically incorrect.”
The focus group, which was split evenly between Trump supporters and those backing another Republican candidate, provides a fascinating window into not only how Pennsylvanians view Trump on the eve of the state’s primary, on Tuesday, but also into how the real estate mogul is viewed more broadly.
The findings should be comforting for Trump and deeply concerning not only for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, his rivals for the Republican nomination, but also for the “Never Trump” movement within the GOP establishment.
“These GOP Walmart moms seem to want no part of the #NeverTrump movement,” Newhouse told me Sunday. “In fact, they respect his strength and his straight talk and believe he is the party’s best shot to beat Hillary.”
Let’s break it down.
Most importantly, the GOP primary race as seen through the lens of these Walmart moms is, effectively, Trump vs. everyone else. Neither Cruz nor Kasich make much of an impression with these women — even this late in the primary process.
“Voters were generally unable to tell us much about either Cruz or Kasich, Republican primary voters seemed to dislike Cruz perhaps more than the swing Moms; he was generally described in both groups as ‘religious,’ ‘gorilla — almost human,’ or ‘like a neighbor’s dog — you don’t know if they’re going to bite,’ ” Omero and Newhouse wrote. “Kasich’s image was even thinner, ‘I think they like him in Ohio,’ said one, ‘too sane,’ or ‘Mild, like a kitten,’ said others.”
Then there’s the fact that for all the attention paid to Trump’s comments about women during his long life in the public eye, the vast majority of these GOP Walmart moms seems strikingly unbothered by his views on women.
“When these GOP Moms were pushed about Trump’s gender issues, there was some acknowledgment that he may be a ‘sexist,’ but general agreement among these women was that ‘I don’t really care, I’ve seen worse,’ ” Newhouse and Omero wrote.
That’s an absolutely stunning finding — at least to me.
When it comes to the broader delegate fight, the women in the focus group think Trump is also in very good shape and think it would be deeply unfair for the person who enters the convention with the most votes and delegates not to be chosen as the Republican nominee.
“I’d feel terribly misled,” one woman said when asked about the prospect. “Cheated,” another said. (Not surprisingly, this group was equally dismissive about the prospect of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan or some other “white knight” candidate riding to the rescue at the convention; “If convention turned to someone like Paul Ryan — shows that GOP leaders don’t really care about them,” Newhouse tweeted while conducting the focus group.)
Finally, there’s a very strong sense that Trump represents the GOP’s best chance of beating Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the fall — despite lots and lots of polling that suggests he would be a decidedly weak nominee against the former secretary of state.
The Walmart moms said they would feel “relieved,” “concerned,” “good” and “optimistic” with Trump as the nominee — a remarkable set of emotions toward the business mogul. “There was no hesitation among the GOP women that Trump could beat Clinton and that they would support the GOP nominee — even if he hadn’t been their first choice,” Newhouse and Omero wrote.
With Trump coming off a huge win in New York last Tuesday and almost certainly headed to a five-state sweep this Tuesday, these findings suggest that among the GOP rank and file, he is considered far more likely to be the Republican nominee than is commonly understood in Washington — a frightening prospect for party leaders, who believe that nominating Trump could be a massive electoral disaster for their side.
“Pittsburgh’s not that far from Washington, D.C., but these GOP Walmart moms are a world apart from D.C. in their views on this race,” Newhouse said. “We’ve long passed Valentine’s Day, but among these women, it’s coming up all roses for Donald Trump.”