Trump's crude comment reveals his biggest problem: women voters

If Trump ran against Hillary Clinton, he would lose badly, according to polls, and his margin of defeat would be entirely accounted for by his unpopularity with women.

Rebecca Cook/Reuters
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (r.) greets the crowd during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Monday.

Polls show women voters don’t like Donald Trump. At all.

This is true for both Republican-leaning women and the female electorate as a whole. And if Mr. Trump ran against Hillary Clinton in a general election? According to current polls, he would lose badly, and his margin of defeat would be entirely accounted for by his unpopularity with women.

Trump’s relationship with gender issues is in the news again due to a remark about Mrs. Clinton he made on the stump in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Monday. He used a variant of a crude Yiddish word for a part of the male anatomy in describing her defeat at the hand of President Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary elections.

The remark was of a piece with some of his other statements about women, including his harsh words about comedian Rosie O’Donnell’s weight, his attacks on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly for what Trump considered to be unfair questioning, and his laughing dismissal of GOP rival Carly Fiorina’s physical appearance.

Ms. Fiorina fought back in a September GOP debate, implying that Trump’s disparagement of her face was an insult not just to her, but to women everywhere.

“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” Fiorina said.

There’s a statement that political fact-checkers might rate “Mostly True." Republican presidential contenders often display a gender gap, with higher approval ratings among men than women. But Trump’s gender gap is unusually large.

We’ll start with the general electorate. A recently released Quinnipiac University survey found that among all male voters – Republicans, Democrats, and independents – Trump’s favorable rating was 42, and his unfavorable rating was 49, producing a net measure of minus 7.

Among women it was 25 percent favorable and 68 percent unfavorable. That’s a net of minus 43.

Just as a comparison, the same measure for women voters and Ted Cruz is a net unfavorable of minus 5. If you look at the detailed numbers in this poll, by wide measures women are less likely to consider Trump electable, to say that he has the qualities needed in a president, to say he is a strong leader, and so forth.

Moving on to just Republicans, Trump’s position improves, but not by a huge amount.

Take the most recent ABC/Washington Post poll, in which Trump leads overall with 38 percent of GOP voters. Trump’s gains in this poll compared to previous months are entirely attributable to gains among males, point out pollsters. In this survey, 47 percent of GOP men now back Trump. Only 28 percent of Republican women do so – a gender gap of 19 points.

A new Fox News poll has similar results. It shows 46 percent of GOP-leaning male voters supporting Trump. The comparable figure for women is 30.

And if Trump ends up running against a woman, women voters would defeat him, as the numbers now stand.

If the United States electorate were entirely male, Trump would beat Clinton in a head-to-head matchup. In that scenario, Quinnipiac’s data shows him with an eight point victory, 47 to 39 percent. Fox has him winning among males by 46 to 41.

But Trump would lose heavily among women, by 21 points according to Quinnipiac, and by 26 points according to Fox. The net result? President Clinton by a comfortable margin in both cases.

One interesting aspect of all these numbers is that Trump’s split appears to be largely the result of the publicity that has surrounded his presidential bid. Gallup points out that when Trump announced in July there was not much difference in the way men and women felt about him. As the campaign has progressed, his gender gap has only widened.

Men like him more. Women like him less.

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