POLITICO: Is Trump Driving Women Away From the GOP for Good?

I spoke with E.J. Graff, managing editor of The Monkey Cage Blog, for a piece in POLITICO Magazine exploring shifting gender dynamics within the GOP coalition:

“If these trends continue,” political scientist Melissa Deckman of Washington College told me, “women’s preference for Democrats will be a big contributor to the midterm results.”

And beyond the midterms, too. “Once you give up that party label, you’re less inclined to easily take it back,” says University of Virginia political scientist Jennifer Lawless. Liam Donovan, a lobbyist and former National Republican Senatorial Committee staffer, notes that the Republican loss of college-educated white women “is not balanced out by a huge spike among white men—on net, that’s a real problem for the Republicans.” Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, of all people, put it more starkly this summer: “The Republican college-educated woman is done. They’re gone. They were going anyway at some point in time. Trump triggers them.”

Donovan, the former NRSC staffer, says he wonders how far women who leave the GOP will actually go. Will they call themselves independents who tend to lean Republican, akin to leaving the team’s clubhouse but staying in its yard? Putative independents who aren’t registered with one party but who tell pollsters that they nonetheless sympathize with one party, Lawless explains, tend to vote for that party’s ticket as reliably as those who embrace the party label. That means the big question is whether, as she puts it, “these women who are saying the Republican Party no longer represents them and are eschewing the party label—will they still lean Republican?”

Of course, a lot rides on what the Republican Party does in the years ahead. Certainly, by saying recently that it’s “a very scary time” to be a young man, Trump has “put the pedal to the metal” on the GOP’s appeal to angry white blue-collar men, Donovan says. But as Masket put it, “There are a lot of young women coming of age in this presidency who will vote for the first time either this year or in 2020, with this very stark view of gender relations between the two parties.” He sees the Ford/Kavanaugh hearings as a powerful influence at such a formative moment for social identity: “Those images aren’t ones that go away very quickly.”

Read the entire piece here.

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