Wed, May 18, 2016 - Page 9 News List

My female friends shudder at the idea of President Trump

The gender gap in the US is fast turning into a gulf, thanks to the visceral reactions of many voters to likely presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump, but the female vote could prove decisive in November’s election

By Lucy Rock  /  The Observer

Illustration: Mountain People

When I moved to the US in the summer of last year, reality TV star Donald Trump was dominating the airwaves after making sexist comments about Megyn Kelly of Fox News.

During the first US Republican Party presidential debate, Kelly questioned whether Trump had the temperament for the job, given that he had called women he disliked “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals” in the past.

Responding with characteristic belligerence and aggression, Trump called her a “bimbo” and ascribed her remarks to the likelihood of her having “blood coming out of her wherever.”

Wow. However, at the time I thought that there was nothing to worry about here. The presidential bid of a man prepared to make such offensive comments would fizzle out with the silly season. Trump was a clown, a controversial soundbite machine pepping up ratings when political news was scarce.

Fast forward nearly a year and Trump is now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — and no one is laughing.

When I mentioned his name to a group of parents standing in the sunshine in the playground at my daughter’s preschool last week there was a collective shiver. It was visceral.

Beth, 36, like me a mother of three daughters, said: “It’s a joke we’re even talking about this. We are in a sad state. I tuned out a long time ago: it’s all rubbish. I would never vote for a man like Trump.”

Sheri, 34, and Mary Ellen, 35, are angry, bemused and embarrassed in equal measure.

“What must the rest of the world think?” asked Mary Ellen, a landscape architect. “His racism, his sexism, it’s scary.”

They are not alone in their alarmed disapprobation. About 70 percent of women have an “unfavorable opinion” of Trump, and this cuts across age, race, and socioeconomic and marital status. Given that women vote in higher numbers than men — in 2012, 63.7 percent of women turned out compared with 59.8 percent of men — he should be worried.

Most women are surely turned off by his unapologetic, creepy misogyny. In March, he retweeted a picture of his wife Melania, a former model, next to an unflattering picture of US Senator Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, with the caption: “The images are worth a thousand words.”

Of his former rival for the nomination, Carly Fiorina, he said: “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

His misogyny goes back years. In 2012 he tweeted that the Huffington Post editor, Arianna Huffington, was “unattractive both inside and out.”

Then there is his hideous admission in a 2006 interview: “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

It seems incredible that a presidential candidate could say these things. Imagine the leader of a British political party, a potential prime minister, making these comments about Scottish television presenter Kirsty Wark or British Home Secretary Theresa May.

However, if Trump has a woman problem, it appears former US secretary of state Hilary Rodham Clinton has a white man problem — and I’m not talking about US Senator Bernie Sanders, her rival for the Democratic Party nomination, who has vowed to stay in the race until the Democrat convention in July despite her nearly insurmountable lead in delegates.

The results of polling in three swing states last week showed Clinton with a 19 point advantage over Trump among women in Pennsylvania, but Trump with a 21-point lead among men. In Ohio, Clinton is up 7 points among women, but down by 15 points with men. In Florida, Clinton’s 13-point lead with women is matched by Trump’s 13-point lead with men.

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