Election 2020

Will 2016 Be The Great Battle of the Sexes?

Polls show that Donald Trump has a gender problem with women, but Hillary Clinton has a gender problem, too. Men dislike her, not at the same levels as women dislike Trump, but more than any other candidate.

As The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz noted:

If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the 2016 presidential candidates, gender will be part of the campaign in an unprecedented way. It goes beyond the fact that Clinton would be the first woman nominated by one of the two major parties as its presidential candidate: Polls consistently show that women really, really don’t like Trump, and men — to a lesser but still significant degree — really don’t like Clinton.

Americans overall don’t like Trump or Clinton. In polls taken over the past six weeks, Trump’s average net favorable/unfavorable rating has been minus 23 percent, and Clinton’s has been minus 12 percent.

However, beneath the surface, it’s the high level of distaste for both of them among the opposite gender that is driving those awful ratings.

In an average of polls, Trump had a favorable rate of negative 32.8 percent among women, Clinton had a negative 20 percent among men.

A recent Zogby Analytics poll solidified these numbers, finding that only 36 percent of voters view Trump favorably, while 59 percent view him unfavorably — a negative 23 percent unfavorable rating. Clinton does not fare much better, at 41 percent favorable and 54 percent unfavorable.

Trump performs horribly among sub-groups. A full 74 percent of 18-29 year olds view him negatively, while 79 percent of African Americans and 81 percent of Democrats also dislike him. These numbers may not be surprising, but a full 66 percent of women also dislike Trump, while only 52 percent of men do. (Also, perhaps notably, 51 percent of “Born Again/evangelicals” dislike him, as do 51 percent of Catholics.)

According to the Zogby poll, 85 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of conservatives, and even 62 percent of independents dislike Clinton. Her numbers were better for men than in other polls, but still quite negative, as 56 percent of them dislike her, with 53 percent of women also viewing her unfavorably. These slightly better numbers should not give Clinton pause, however, as some polls have found her with embarrassingly bad performances with men, such as a negative 39 percent net favorability with them back in October.

Next Page: Why the Gender Disparity?

Why This Gender Disparity?

Both Clinton and Trump have arguably partaken in gender warfare.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declared back in February that “there is a special place in hell” for women who won’t back Hillary. Last December, the Clinton campaign released a video featuring little girls writing letters to Clinton, saying that 44 boys is too many. A video by YouTube personality Julie Borowski proves perhaps the best illustration of how sexist this is.

Dressing up like a 12-year-old girl, Borowski declared, “Who cares about policies and accomplishments? My mom told me to pick presidents based on their gender — non-liberal women don’t count, Carly!” Later, she added, “If Hillary Clinton were president, a lot of girls could be president…Girls can be dirty, corrupt politicians, too!”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has become famous for demeaning attacks against women, calling them (in Megyn Kelly’s famous words) “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” Trump responded by saying she had blood “coming out of her…wherever.” Indeed, some have argued — maliciously, but not without some trace of merit — that his only core philosophy is misogyny.

Trump has been known to take pleasure in humiliating women. When he owned the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, he screened each of the contestants. Carrie Prejean, who went through his screening process, recalled in her book that “some of the girls were sobbing backstage after [Trump] left, devastated to have failed even before the competition really began … even those of us who were among the chosen couldn’t feel very good about it– it was as though we had been stripped bare.”

The Donald told Timothy O’Brien that his favorite part in Pulp Fiction is when a character tells a husband to force his wife to “shut up” and to call her a “b*tch.” In the early 1990s, New York magazine quoted him as saying, “Women, you have to treat them like sh*t.”

Trump has also bragged about his sexual exploits with women other than his wife, telling the Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson, “It’s true you have better hair than I do. But I get more p*ssy than you.”

Hilariously, there has even been a movement launched to deny sex to Trump supporters, using the hashtag #VoteTrumpGetDumped. Proponents use comparisons to the ancient Greek play Lysistrata and the early Temperance movement, both of which involved women refusing to have sex with men who opposed their feminine interests.

On Monday, Trump explained his past controversial remarks about women, saying “I never thought I would run for office.” When asked about the issue, the real estate tycoon actually said, “I thought this was actually a dead issue until I just spoke to you,” as if the scuffles with Megyn Kelly last year had never occurred. “I’d rather be talking about trade; I’d rather be talking about, you know, the things I’m best at: border security.”

Next Page: Does This Mean Trump Cannot Win a General Election?

Does This Mean Trump Cannot Win a General Election?

Contrary to the reported giddiness among Democratic circles about Trump becoming the Republican nominee, The Donald’s weakness among women would not necessarily doom him in a general election. There is some evidence that Trump’s controversial position on trade could flip the scales in key industrial states, and that head-to-head poll match-ups are not very predictive seven months out.

According to a recent Bloomberg Politics poll, 65 percent of Americans prefer more restrictions on imported goods to protect U.S. jobs, while only 22 percent favor fewer restrictions. 44 percent said that NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), which took effect under former President Bill Clinton, has been bad for the economy, while only 29 percent said it has been good. A full 82 percent said they are willing to pay a higher price for products made in the U.S., while 13 percent said they’d prefer the lowest possible price.

While these numbers may be absolutely baffling for economists, they explain the recent surge in support for candidates who oppose free trade, both in the Republican and Democratic presidential contests. One Democratic strategist told Bloomberg Politics that Trump “could alter the map and make us fight in industrial Midwestern states we have not had to fight in for years.”

Trump still lags Clinton in most head-to-head match-ups, but Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich noted that “Reagan was 25 points behind Carter in March of 1980.” Reagan closed that gap, winning the popular vote by 10 points in a 44-state landslide.

There are many reasons for caution when it comes to predicting election outcomes. Political scientists often point to the “fundamentals,” a broad set of factors which campaigns cannot control, yet often determine the outcome of an election. The biggest examples are the state of the economy and a former president’s approval rating. In addition to these factors, events with a broad-based impact, happening right before voters make their final decision, often swing an election.

In the case of a terrorist attack, a financial crash, or a scandal, even a president with break-even approval ratings (like Obama has now) can see his party rushed out of office on Election Day.

Ultimately, the “battle of the sexes” may come to pass, so long as Clinton and Trump maintain their current leads to take their respective nominations. Ted Cruz (who beats Trump and Clinton among Millennials, according to a recent poll) and Bernie Sanders could each derail this narrative, but if current conditions hold, expect men and women to be more divided than ever before — when it comes to the ballot box.