November 5, 2018 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

Tuesday Is for Political Payback

As usual, American women are getting the job done.

Share this article

I don’t know how tomorrow is going to shake out any more than anyone else. (And don’t believe anyone who tells you they know.) Yes, polling gives us a good deal of information about what to expect, but as regular Editorial Board readers know, polling is not predictive. It’s an informed guess. That’s better than nothing, though.

This is important to note because some are saying the president’s last-ditch effort to ramp up paranoia, xenophobia and bigotry (over “criminals,” over the “caravan,” over fill-in-the-blank) is affecting polling, therefore giving way to statements like this: whatever you think of Trump’s racist tirades, they are working to drive out the GOP base. This is probably confusing correlation with causation. Yes, polls show Republicans “coming back home,” but is that due to Trump’s efforts? It might be. Just as likely, it might not be. I don’t think we can ever really know for sure.

Here’s another theoretical scenario related to the first: Yes, Trump’s racist tirades might be driving out Republicans, but as likely they are driving out Democrats even more. This is what happened after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. We were told that opposition to Kavanaugh was electoral gold. It would spark a backlash against the Democrats. Well, turns out, it’s the reverse. The backlash isn’t coming from Republican voters. It’s coming from women determined to elect Democrats.

Consider too that we already saw tomorrow’s midterms in miniature last year during the race for Virginia governor. Republican Ed Gillespie out-Trumped Trump in running a white-power campaign. Polling right before Election Day had him three points ahead of Democrat Ralph Northam. By day’s end, Gillespie was nine points behind. Northam crushed him. As Vanity Fair’s Peter Hamby wrote: “Since Trump took office, polls have consistently underestimated Democratic performance.”

That performance is coming from women. Reid Wilson, of The Hill, tweeted demographics derived from early voting data. Across the board, women are voting at rates around 10 or more points ahead of men. Given that the president’s core support is from men, this long-term trend line does not bode well for him or the GOP. CNN’s Ronald Brownstein says this has the makings of a realignment between the parties.

Here’s the latest on the “gender gap” from CNN:

Democrats benefit from a massive gender gap that has persisted throughout the fall (women favor Democrats 62% to 35%, while men are about evenly divided, 49% back the Republican, while 48% support the Democrat in their district), a wide lead among political independents (53% for the Democrat to 39% for the Republican), and strong support from black and Latino voters (88% of black voters and 66% of Latino voters favor the Democrats).

The gender gap cuts across lines of race and education, with non-white women (79% favor Democrats) and white women with college degrees (68% back the Democrat) breaking most heavily for the Democrats, while white men (57% Republican) and particularly white men without college degrees (65% back the Republican) are most deeply behind the GOP. (Boldface is mine.)

Notice above I said “long-term.” Short-term, meaning tomorrow, is different.

There’s still a chance that the Republicans retain control of the Congress, meaning there’s still a chance Trump won’t have any opposition to doing whatever he wants. There’s still enough voter apathy out there to make a difference in tight races. There’s still enough voter suppression, too. Congressional districts are still gerrymandered to the gills. Democratic voters were going to have to overperform in any case. The question is whether and how much overperformance will be enough to win.

Why and how Donald Trump got elected is a question that will be debated for a long time, but I tend to believe the simplest explanation: a lot of people in three states were never going to vote for a woman to be president, much less for Hillary Clinton. Yes, racism and anti-immigrant feeling probably played a large role in white working class Americans moving from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to supporting Trump. But just as likely, I think, is they were never going to vote for a woman. Period.

My gut tells me this was a painful blow to highly educated professional suburban white women who are aware, obviously, of the forces bearing down on women but who have the resources to push back against them such that they believed things were getting better for women when they were very much not. It’s not a coincidence that these are the very same voters the Democrats has been courting for two years.

Such voters saw America pick a lying, thieving, philandering sociopath for president instead of a highly qualified and highly accomplished woman. They saw America step backwards in ways that threaten them, their livelihoods and their children’s futures. They saw America commit a great wrong to be righted on the next Election Day.

Political payback. It’s not glamorous. It’s not sexy.

But it gets the job done.

Chris Luongo’s final forecast of 2018

In case you missed it

Hate Is Not Morally Relative
Or it won’t be as long as liberals have something to say.

Trump Is the Wrong Kind of Nationalist
Liberals made democracy liberal. They can do the same to nationalism.

Fascism Threatens Us. So Does Indifference
Liberals must demand greater accountability from every citizen. Vote!

White Evangelicals Love Donald Trump. Why?
The courts? Nope. Abortion? Nuh-uh.

In 2018, Liberalism Returns to the States
The Tea Party is over. The Editorial Board expects 26 governorships to go blue.

Never miss an edition of the Editorial Board!

Subscribe today!

The Editorial Board goes to everyone today, but to subscribers only Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you like what you see, now’s the time to subscribe.

To get insight sent directly to their inbox every week day, all they’ve got to do is subscribe. $5 a month or $55 a year! It’s so easy. Today: Get a month free!

Many thanks for supporting the Editorial Board! —John Stoehr

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

Leave a Comment

Want to comment on this post?
Click here to upgrade to a premium membership.