Friday, July 26, 2019

Trump's Strategy May Not Work with White Noncollege Women--That's a Big Opportunity for Democrats

It's no secret that white noncollege women on average are far more accessible for the Democrats than white noncollege men. If the Democrats are to make headway among white noncollege voters in 2020--which is one of the keys if not the key to defeating Trump--it will likely be concentrated among this group.
But how feasible is that in light of Trump's decision to turn up the volume on immigration and immigrants in an overtly racist way? Will this perhaps consolidate his support among the white working class voters who supported him in 2016 and prevent Democrats from making any gains?
I think there are lots of reasons to doubt this (see my previous posts) but the gaping hole in this strategy--if it is a strategy--is that white noncollege women seem less than enthusiastic about Trump's amped-up belligerence. Ron Brownstein notes the following from a series of focus groups conducted among white noncollge voters in nonmetro areas of Nevada, Maine and Wisconsin:
"The women weren’t immune to Trump’s arguments on immigration...But among...women...areas of agreement were mitigated by other concerns about Trump, including their belief that, on immigration, “his rhetoric … made him sound ‘racist’ or ‘ignorant,’” as the report notes. “There were a lot of mentions of intolerance in reaction to what he was saying and doing,” [Stan] Greenberg says.
That recoil represents one component of the broader unease these women expressed about the level of acrimony and division under Trump. While the men almost entirely found ways to justify Trump, the women expressed much more discomfort about the way he talks about race-related issues, his overall style, and whether he respects women....
Women were also more likely than men in the groups to say that Trump’s economy hasn’t delivered improvement for their family, and they were more likely to cite rising health-care and prescription-drug costs as an especially acute squeeze. In both parties, strategists I’ve talked with agree that Democratic promises to defend the Affordable Care Act, particularly its provisions safeguarding patients with preexisting conditions, were crucial to the party’s recovery among blue-collar white women in 2018."
Of course, these findings are from focus groups and I am always cautious about focus group-based analyses. But the findings gain credibility when we look at what the quantitative data are telling us. In the recently-released NPR/Marist poll, an amazing 47 percent of white noncollege women said they definitely planned to vote against Trump in 2020, more than planned to definitely vote for him (45 percent).
According to the poll, 67 percent of these women support Medicare for all who want it; 67 percent support a wealth tax and 64 percent support a national minimum wage of $15, with lower but still positive support for a Green New Deal focused on jobs and infrastructure and a for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the country. Sounds pretty good!
However, there is very little enthusiasm for the following:
Medicare for All that replaces private health insurance (38 percent support)
Providing health insurance for illegal immigrants (21 percent)
Decriminalizing illegal border crossings (24 percent)
Reparations (15 percent)
So there is definitely an opportunity here for Democrats in 2020, as Trump's strategy leaves him highly vulnerable among this key demographic. It also seems obvious what to do (and what not to do) to take advantage of this opportunity. Let's hope Democrats play it smart.
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His strategy rests on a bet: that these voters will respond just as enthusiastically to his belligerence as working-class white men.

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