As the number of scandals in the White House racks up, with accusations that now-former top aide Rob Porter abused his ex-wives being the latest, some women who voted for President Trump are walking away from him.
On Friday, Trump defended Porter, saying, “He did a very good job while he was in the White House.”
“We found out about [the allegations from Porter’s ex-wives] recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him,” Trump told reporters. “He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”
But there was one very glaring omission from his statement: the women.
Trump won larger percentages of women in 2016 during his race against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton than many on both sides of the aisle expected. More than 4 in 10 women — and 52 percent of white women — voted for Trump, according to exit polls.
Despite facing nearly 20 accusations of sexual misconduct, such surrogates as White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, the first woman to manage a winning presidential campaign, and first daughter Ivanka Trump, adviser to the president, successfully convinced many American women that Trump had the best vision to make America great.
But those numbers have recently changed.
The most recent Washington Post-ABC poll has found that approval from white women has fallen since the president’s first 100 days. While most white women voted for Trump in 2016, his approval rating has fallen 10 points since then, and strong disapproval of the president by this group rose 12 points, from 39 percent to 51 percent.
The group of women Trump performed best with was white women without college degrees. Many of these women found his message championing traditional values and an economic message benefiting working-class families in Middle America more attractive than Clinton’s progressive promise to continue the Obama legacy.
But that has recently changed. The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein recently wrote:
“In the Rustbelt states that decided 2016, Trump has slipped into a much more precarious position with these women: Gallup put his 2017 approval with them at 45 percent in Pennsylvania, 42 percent in Michigan, and 39 percent or less in Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Compared to his 2016 vote, his 2017 approval among blue-collar white women in the Rustbelt represented some of his largest declines anywhere — 18 percentage points in Ohio and 19 in Wisconsin and Minnesota.”
Brownstein wrote that the decline in support began during Trump’s unsuccessful effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, something he repeatedly promised his base he would do.
According to the Post-ABC poll, more than 1 in 5 — 22 percent — of white women without a college degree said actions by Trump have mainly hurt them and their family.
And despite Trump’s frequent praise of the economy, nearly half — 47 percent — of white women without degrees view the nation’s economy as not so good or poor. Most — 65 percent — of these women do not believe that Trump is the “very stable genius” that he says he is. And the overwhelming majority — 79 percent — of these women think sexual harassment of women in the workplace is a problem in America.
Trump has already expressed interest in running for reelection in 2020, but he will have a difficult time capturing the nomination if women continue to disapprove of him at this rate.
Recent scandals involving the relationship between Team Trump and women have dominated headlines and have probably influenced female voters’ perception of the White House’s views on women.
In January, reports claimed that an adult film actress who allegedly had an affair with Trump shortly after his wife gave birth received a six-figure payment to remain silent. Trump denied the allegations.
And in December, Trump endorsed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls while he was in his 30s.
Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel delivered senior White House staff a memo at the end of 2017 showing how poorly the GOP was doing with women. If Trump and his supporters do not make significant changes, GOP lawmakers who support Trump’s agenda may endure the wrath of American women who are fed up with the president.