Who Are the Women Supporting Trump? They Have Less in Common Than You Think
Donald Trump is a ladies man.
No doubt about it: He's a self-described babe magnet. He's had a set of high-profile marriages and once argued that his "long list of ex-lovers is a sign that he would make a fine president," according to the Daily Beast. But do Trump's womanizing ways mean he can shore up the woman vote? Although "female Trump supporter" may seem like an oxymoron, the women on Team Trump have not yet abandoned ship.
"He's a breath of fresh air," Paula Johnson, a mother of three in Nashua, New Hampshire, told Mic. "I think he's the only one that has a vision for America because he's a businessman, and we need to get away from the establishment politics. We're tired of Washington."
Johnson isn't alone. Although Trump is a divisive figure among female voters in national polls, his supporters are evenly spread between men and women in the Republican base. Even after he made a below-the-belt period joke about Megyn Kelly, arguably one of the most beloved figures in conservative media, after Kelly asked why he calls women he doesn't like "'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs' and 'disgusting animals,'" his popularity shockingly rose.
What do women love so much about a man who seems to show disregard for their entire gender?
Scottie Hughes, the News Director the Tea Party News Network and the author of ROAR: The New Conservative Woman Speaks Out told Mic it's all about trust. "What women like about Trump is that he is not afraid to say what he means even if he's wrong." Hughes said.
"They look at Trump and they see honesty. Women love honesty. Except when it comes to how we look in a bathing suit," she quipped. "It takes a lot for women to trust people. But once we do, we are loyal." Statistically, this is true: When it comes to supporting and donating to political candidates, female constituents, more than the male ones, are more likely to stick with candidates they like.
Often overlooked is the fact that the most conservative wing of the Republican party is a movement largely headed by women. A survey from 2010, the height of tea party organizing, shows a majority of its members were women. Some of its most well-known leaders were Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Trump has even said he would "love" to include Palin in his cabinet because they both share "love for this country, (and) a desire to see our economy put back on the right track."
Since Trump is largely playing the same role as the tea party five years ago — serving as a disruptive and divisive force — it's unsurprising women aligned with this wing of the GOP are supporting him. "What Trump is doing is what the tea party did in 2010," Trump supporter Hughes said.
"He's making these politicians come out, and he's exposing what the tea party has been screaming about Washington for years," she said. "Since the tea party is largely a movement powered by women, it's not shocking to see women cling to him as a candidate."
Women build strong communities and have found one in Trump. "[Tea party] spokespersons are female, the leaders are female and there's a reason why: It's an extremely grassroots movement." Hughes explained. "Moms that run women's' groups grew and grew, husbands would join in that way, but 99% of these groups are infiltrated by women."
The ultra-conservative women who identify with the tea party movement don't view Trump's comments or positions on women as especially noteworthy. His potential impact is more salient. "If [Trump] creates jobs, he will create [more opportunities for] women. He will give everybody a better opportunity to excel in their lives — that will be all cultures and all genders," Johnson said. When pressed on the fact that the business mogul has a history of using sexist language to talk about women, Johnson said that "on The Apprentice he treated men and women equally."
Then there are the women who love Trump for all the wrong reasons. Or the right reasons, depending on who's side you're on. Jessica Higgins, a 20-something Hillary Clinton supporter who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative, says that she can't get enough of The Donald. "He's making a mockery of our system and stealing all the media from the Republican party," she told Mic. Being a disrupter in the market is a brilliant business strategy. "I'm a huge supporter."
Ultimately, she said, she doesn't think Trump's way of treating women or people of color will be damaging. "His racial slurs and gender bias is definitely shocking and does not make me feel comfortable, but it's kind of like a stand-up comedian making a joke, you can't take it seriously," she said. Even though Higgins described Trump as a "pig," she also said she thinks he's incredibly intelligent. "He's taking the Snooki and JWoww route," she laughed. "All me and my friends see in our newsfeed is Trump, Trump, Trump: He's stealing all the headlines, and no one has been able to do that since the Kardashian's ass."
Female support for Trump might also be a time issue. The well-documented leisure gap means women have less time to sit around and watch cable news. When they do, the Trump media spectacle is at the top of every broadcast. "Many women don't have the time because they are playing a million different roles in today's society," Hughes said. "Trump has the biggest microphone. That exposure is what many women are seeing when they turn on their television."
Trump and other voting groups: While Trump's inflammatory comments about Mexicans being "rapists" turned off 80% of Latino voters, those remaining 20% view him favorably. Many in that group are women who support his ideas concerning immigration and border control.
Regardless of how busy they are, when women do tune in, they will see Trump singing their praises, even if he's not backing it up with any policy. In a Tuesday morning interview on CNN, the candidate said "I will be so good to women" and that he'll "work hard to protect women." During his exchange with Chris Cuomo, Trump also reversed his position on Planned Parenthood and (accidentally?) took the Democratic stance on the issue of federal funding, earning him accolades from the largest provider of women's health care. He used to describe himself as "very pro-choice" and support late-term abortions, so perhaps Trump isn't so bad for women after all.
Although women are often talked about as a monolithic bloc, their voting patterns and positions on Trump suggest otherwise. At 53%, they make up a majority of the electorate. Maybe it's time we treat them like the complex and diverse group that they truly are.
Even if that means accepting the fact that some of them might vote for Trump.