Polls show President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE losing women voters by huge margins, presenting his reelection campaign with a massive hurdle to overcome as he seeks a second term in office.
Perhaps most alarmingly for Trump, the president is losing support from the white women who were pivotal to his electoral success in 2016.
Exit polls and post-election studies found Trump outperforming Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE among white women in 2016, a statistic that the president cites on the campaign trail to combat the notion that he’s struggling with a widening gender gap in support.
But recent polling indicates that the same white female voters who propelled Trump to victory in 2016 might send him to defeat in 2020 if current trends hold.
A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday found Trump trailing the top five Democratic contenders by between 9 points and 16 points overall, with each leading the president by 23 points or more among all women.
Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) performed best in hypothetical head-to-head matchups with the president, with each posting an 18 point advantage over Trump among white women.
“Trump has significant issues with suburban women,” said Mark PennMark PennThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden leads Trump by 6 points in new poll Biden leads Trump by 6 points as voters sour on pandemic response: poll Poll: Two-thirds of voters say the economy is on the wrong track MORE, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS–Harris Poll.
“These voters are the real closet conservatives who voted for Trump and Romney by double digits. The Republicans lost them in the mid-terms and they are Trump’s biggest roadblock to reelection. He’s done nothing so far that has been successful to win them back,” he added, referring to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMilley discussed resigning from post after Trump photo-op: report Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Attorney says 75-year-old man shoved by Buffalo police suffered brain injury MORE.
The Trump campaign is taking the matter seriously, launching a “Women for Trump” campaign headlined by a dynamic group of female surrogates aiming to build a grass-roots army to turn out female voters for the president next November.
The three-dozen key members of the group come from 18 different states. Billing themselves as “the real squad,” — a play on the four Democratic freshman congresswomen known as “the squad” — the group includes a former governor, a comedian, a pop singer, a former Marine, an “angel mom” and an author and motivational speaker.
The Trump campaign told The Hill that the group’s first national day of training — held earlier this month on the 99th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that gives women the right to vote — resulted in 4,600 new female volunteers signing up in 16 states to register new voters or knock on doors for Trump.
Tana Goertz, a Women for Trump member in Iowa and former contestant on “The Apprentice,” held a training event in Des Moines, Iowa, that attracted about 90 women. She told The Hill she believes the polls do not accurately reflect the enthusiasm women have for the president in key battleground states.
“I don’t believe the polls, I believe the voters,” Goertz said. “We shocked the world in 2016 and we’ll shock them again.”
Women for Trump is focused on getting out the message that Trump’s policies have benefitted women.
They note that the unemployment rate for women is at historic lows and say that of the 5 million jobs created during the Trump presidency, 3.2 million have benefitted women.
Trump’s female supporters also point to his anti-abortion record; the doubling of the child tax credit; Trump’s support for different education options, such as charter schools; a paid family leave proposal for newborns; the president’s insistence on securing the border; and a crackdown on drug and human trafficking as evidence that he supports policies that are important to women.
“I think the president is always doing better than the media gives him credit for,” said Penny Nance, who is on the advisory board for Women for Trump.
“What I see around the country in doing these get-out-the-vote events with women are packed houses and high enthusiasm. So this idea that women don’t like Trump is just a false narrative. Thirty million women voted for him in the last election, and I think the vast majority will do so again. Underestimate him at your own risk.”
Still, there is evidence that Trump’s myriad controversies, from the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape to feuds with the U.S. women’s soccer team, have taken their toll.
About a dozen women have accused the president of sexual misconduct, all of which he has strongly denied.
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Quinnipiac University pollster Tim Malloy said his survey has asked female voters on 48 different occasions since Trump was elected how they feel about him. In all 48 surveys, women disapproved of Trump by a nearly two-to-one margin, and the president topped out at 36 percent approval among women.
“One indicator may his abysmal numbers on empathy and his very low standing as a role model,” Malloy said.
But Nance argued that women are apt to look beyond the president’s flaws at how his policies have benefitted them.
“He sometimes uses awkward terms or people don’t like his tweets, but women like his policies,” Nance said. “The 30 million women who voted for him in 2016 weren’t choosing a pastor or a husband, they were looking for a bodyguard, and he’s done everything they asked him to do.”
The president lost women overall in 2016, getting 41 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 52 percent.
However, Trump did well enough with white women to counteract that deficit, getting 52 percent support, according to exit polls.
Several recent surveys find that support slipping.
A NBC News–Wall Street Journal poll from earlier this month found Trump trailing a generic Democrat by 12 points overall. The Democrat leads Trump by a whopping 33 points among college educated white women. The margin shrinks among white women without a college education, but Trump still trails here 49 percent to 43 percent.
A Hill–Harris X poll from June found 62 percent of female registered voters said they are unlikely or very unlikely to back Trump’s reelection bid, while only 49 percent of men said the same.
Meanwhile, a Politico–Morning Consult survey found a plurality, 38 percent, said they believe sexism has increased under Trump, against 29 percent who said there has been no change and 20 percent who said it has gotten better.
“The president has never polled well with women and the numbers indicate his standing with women has dropped,” Malloy said.