Like a desperate user of the dating app Bumble, President Trump keeps swiping right on women — especially white suburban women. So far, there’s no match.
The spray tan and fake hair are a turn-off, but it goes beyond the physical. There’s nothing likeable about this guy’s profile. In his first debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Trump was typically mean and angry. He also showed no empathy for anyone, including Americans who have died of COVID-19, a running tally that’s more than 227,000. On the campaign trail, his mindset is circa 1950s. During a recession that’s hitting women the hardest, Trump is promising to get “your husbands back to work.” His idea of chatting up women is braying about saving suburbia by keeping Black and brown people out of it. He regularly calls women “nasty” and he went even further with Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, referring to her as “a monster.”
Yet, Trump keeps begging women to like him. Does he have reason for hope? His raucous rallies still showcase women wearing ecstatic looks and MAGA hats. Meanwhile, the women of The Federalist Society can bask in the conservative intellect highlighted by new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and her expected commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade.
If polls are right, that won’t be enough to reelect Trump. According to one Washington Post/ABC News poll, likely female voters preferred Biden to Trump by 31 points. Trump’s rejection by white suburban women is also brutal. According to a recent analysis by Nate Silver, white suburban men are still with Trump, 57 percent to 41 percent. But Trump gets support from only 45 percent of white suburban women, with 54 percent saying they back Biden.
If Trump loses, it’s because those women abandoned him for good. If it happens, what turned the tide?
It won’t be qualms about sexual amorality. In 2016, women backed Trump despite the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, which came to light during the final weeks of the campaign and graphically exposed his entitlement when it comes to grabbing whatever he wants from women. Thanks to Bill Clinton and his transgressions, Trump was able to cancel that out, along with multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, all of which he has denied. Reports about Trump’s payment to cover up a romp with porn star Stormy Daniels shortly after his wife, Melania, gave birth, have now been corroborated — but that’s unlikely to matter to voters in 2020. Meanwhile, a New York judge just rejected Trump’s bid to temporarily stop proceedings in a lawsuit filed against him by writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of rape. But an allegation of sexual assault from a quarter-century ago isn’t the difference between supporting Trump or Biden.
If women do bail on Trump, I like to think it will be about what his character did to ours. Women looked in the mirror and didn’t like what they saw reflected in it — the face of a country that is meaner, coarser, and less tolerant with Trump in the White House. It has given up on the idea of unity despite differing opinions, and instead accepts perpetual discord and ugly division. It’s OK with separating children from their parents at the border and is willing to take away health insurance during a health crisis. In that country, white supremacists are not shamed but coddled. Lies don’t matter, and it’s fine to demean and belittle those with whom we disagree rather than work together toward a common goal. That’s what a vote for Trump means, along with science denial.
Trump is doing all he can to make voters believe the election is about something else. He’s stirring fears of economic doom under a Biden administration, not to mention fears of white suburbia under attack with Democrats in charge. “Suburban women, will you please like me? . . . I saved your damn neighborhood,” he said at a Michigan rally.
He’s literally begging women to swipe right. So far, they’re swiping left — no match. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @joan_vennochi.