Opinion: Hear that roar? It’s women voters

Dec 15, 2017

One day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, millions of women across the country marched in protest in Washington, D.C. and around the country, including here in Atlanta. While impressive, the question was whether that momentum and passion could be sustained.

I think the answer is going to be a rather resounding yes.

Women voters certainly played a major role in the defeat of Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race on Tuesday, voting for Democrat Doug Jones by a 15-point margin and pushing him to victory. Black women in particular led the way, with 98 percent voting for Jones according to exit polls, but the exodus of suburban women from the Republican Party played an important role as well.

You could argue that the Alabama case was special, that allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore explain his poor showing among women, and you’d have a point. Unfortunately for Republicans, that same phenomenon keeps popping up all over the country, and in poll after poll. In the hard-fought Virginia gubernatorial race last month, for example, women sided with the Democratic candidate by a 22-point margin.

But wait, it gets worse.

Two new national polls — one by Monmouth University, the other from Suffolk University — were released Wednesday. According to Suffolk, just 26 percent of female voters approve of Donald Trump’s job performance, while 67 percent disapprove. That’s a whopping 41-point disadvantage. Those might have been the worst such numbers I’ve ever seen. but the Monmouth numbers are even worse. They put Trump’s job approval at just 24 percent among women, with 68 percent disapproving.

If you’re a Republican political consultant, you look at those numbers and you are at least thankful that Trump won’t be on the ballot in next year’s midterms. But that too may prove to be little comfort, because the antipathy and anger of women voters apparently extends beyond Trump to the Republican Party as a whole.

According to Suffolk, just 21 percent of women voters approve of the GOP while 64 percent disapprove, a 43-point differential. In contrast, 47 percent of women approve of the Democratic Party, while just 32 percent disapprove.

As to what that might mean at the ballot box, we turn back to the new Monmouth numbers for guidance. Their pollsters asked the so-called generic ballot question: “If the election for U.S. Congress was held today, would you vote for the Republican or the Democratic candidate in your district?”

Overall, Monmouth found Republicans at a 15-point disadvantage on that question, echoing results in other recent polls. An advantage larger than 10 points is said by experts to predict a wave election, so 15 points would suggest a political tsunami.

And if that tsunami comes, it will be women-led. Sixty-two percent of women responding to Monmouth pollsters said they would vote for a generic Democrat over a Republican. Just 27 percent report they would vote for a generic Republican. That’s a 35-point margin in favor of the Democrats.

You get the sense that Republicans in Washington already know that they’re in deep trouble, that they’re trying to get as much done as possible, as quickly as possible, before having to face the voters on Nov. 6, 2018. They also have to recognize by now that Trump is going keep being Trump, and that another 11 months with a misogynist in the White House can only drive these numbers lower.

Short of repealing the 19th Amendment, though, I’m not sure there’s a lot they can do.