When Someone Shows You Who They Are

October 21, 2016


Political analysts tell us next month’s presidential election will be decided by the women of America. This is fitting because if she is elected on November 8, Hillary Clinton will become the nation’s first female president.

With little more than two weeks remaining until this excruciatingly awful campaign ends, women— particularly suburban and college-educated white women — have emerged as “perhaps the presidential campaign’s most pivotal swing voting group,” according to The Washington Post. This is a slice of the electorate that surely was stunned and sickened by the appalling “Access Holly- wood” tape showing the Republican presidential nominee bragging about being able to fondle women and kiss them without their consent because he is such a big star. A torrent of accusations by other women, saying that Donald Trump had touched them inappropriately over the years, followed.

Before that, Trump had spent a week hectoring a Latina former Miss Universe over her weight. And for months before that, we were treated to him calling women he doesn’t like “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs,” and “disgusting animals.”

Rosie O’Donnell, Trump said, “is crude, rude, obnoxious and dumb.” Bette Midler’s “ugly face and body” are offensive. New York Times columnist Gail Collins has “the face of a dog” because she once referred to him as a ‘financially embattled thousandaire’. Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly is a “bimbo.” Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is “dumb” because she criticized him. His own wife Melania was a “blimp” and a “monster” when she was pregnant with his child. Hillary Clinton is “a liar” and “the devil.”

Shall we continue, or shall we now pivot and talk about numbers?

Trump is still doing well with white men, particularly non-college-educated men. But women make up nearly 51 percent of the American electorate, and according to the Center for American Women and Politics, the proportion of eligible females who voted has exceeded the proportion of eligible males who voted in every presidential election since 1980. Does anyone think this year—of all years —will be an exception?

Polls indicate that African-American women, who are overwhelmingly Democrat, will vote overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton. But how about white women?

Clinton’s lead among all women is now averaging at least 15 points. In the world of polling, that’s big.

And what about that crucial group of white women with college degrees? Clinton is beating Trump by 30 points: 57 percent to Trump’s 27 percent, according to a recent Monmouth University poll. (In 2012, then-GOP nominee Mitt Romney carried white, college-educated women by 6 points over President Obama.) Pundits agree that Trump badly needs college-educated white women to offset his expected deficit among African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Muslims, and other minority groups.

FiveThirtyEight’s election guru Nate Silver— who predicted every single state correctly for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012—takes it one step further. If ONLY WOMEN voted this November, Clinton would end up with 458 electoral votes to Trump’s 80, Silver said last week.

There was a similar lopsided result, although in reverse, if only men voted. (South Carolina would be in Clinton’s column if only women voted, Silver said.)

Can we say gender gap?

As the poet Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Jan Collins 2021-circle-crop

Jan Collins is a Columbia, South Carolina-based journalist, editor, and author. A former Nieman Fellow at Harvard and former Congressional Fellow in Washington, D. C., she is the coauthor of Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life (Quill Driver Books, 2009).