Women Will Determine the Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

In 1920 American women were, for the first time, able to vote for president in all the states of the union.  The female vote accounted for 30% of the total votes cast in that election.  The women’s vote gradually increased but remained below the 50% threshold until the election of 1964 when nearly 51% of the voting electorate were women.   The female vote has exceeded the male vote ever since.

In fact, women have been the determining factor in five of the last six presidential elections.  A phenomenon often referred to as the “Gender Gap” reflects the fact that women over the past 24 years tend to prefer the Democratic nominee and have created a voting gap from three to thirteen percentage points in favor of any Democratic Party nominee.  In 2008 McCain won just 43% of the women’s vote compared to 56% for Barack Obama, the worst result for a Republican to date.   This long-term trend, in combination with a much higher turnout among female voters adds a significant layer of difficulty for any Republican not named Ronald Reagan (who won 58% of the women’s vote in the 1984 landslide to win the presidency).

The female vs male turnout as a percent of the overall votes cast during the past five presidential elections are as follows: http://www.ropercenter.cornell.edu/polls/us-elections/presidential-elections

 

Women

Men

            1996

54%

46%

            2000

54

46

            2004

54

46

            2008

55

45

            2012

53

47

 

The percentage of the women’s vote won by the respective Democratic and Republican candidates are as follows:

 

Democratic Candidate

Republican Candidate

             1996

54%

38%*

             2000

54

43

             2004

51

48

             2008

56

43

             2012

55

44

*Reflects the impact of Ross Perot who received 8% of female vote

This brings us to the 2016 election which for the first time in history may see a woman nominated for president.  Therefore, many of the estimates for the percentage of women voting in 2016 exceed what has been experienced in recent years.  Perhaps up to 56% of the overall vote will be female due in great part to the potential historic nature of this election cycle.

If that is the case, based on the winning campaign of George Bush in 2004, any Republican nominee will have to win at least 48% of the women’s vote as well as 56% of the men’s vote. 

Currently the Republican presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, is viewed favorably or somewhat favorably by only 29% of women (by comparison George Bush had a 54% favorable rating in May of 2004.) Therefore, his task, if nominated, is to somehow convince 45% of those women who have expressed a deep seated dislike to change their minds and vote for him plus make certain at least 60% of all who have expressed any favorability do in fact vote for him.  If not, Trump will lose the election in a landslide as it is estimated that over 14 million more women will vote than will men.

The strategy the Democrats will utilize in the fall will be to emphasize Trump’s checkered past with women including innumerable audio and video clips of his many inane statements relative to not only women but a myriad of other issues over the past 40 years.  Further, in a potentially devastating double play again using audio and video clips, he will also be portrayed as a race-baiting, avaricious, reprehensible and unethical capitalist.  If Trump’s counter strategy is to pander, he will fail as he will not be able to out-pander Hillary Clinton or any Democratic nominee in their willingness to say or promise anything they, rightly or wrongly, believe will appeal to women.  If his strategy is to deny or disavow all his previous statements and pronouncements he will appear insincere and duplicitous.

There is no doubt Hillary Clinton is an extraordinarily flawed candidate and under normal circumstances should be beatable even with all the built-in advantages the Democratic Party now enjoys in any presidential election.  However, as it stands today the Republicans may well squander this prime opportunity. 

Trump has been given essentially a free ride by the mainstream media and much of the conservative media in a non-transparent and cynical effort to boast their ratings or readership.  With the considerable aid of this same media the nominating process has arrived at a conclusion.  How will Trump respond to the anticipated and relentless attacks from the Democrats and their allies in the media using his own words against him?  Is there a viable way to do so?  And, without the usual non-sequiturs e.g. “Women love me”, how can he realistically capture a sufficient percentage of the women’s vote to win in November when he is starting from an unprecedented disadvantage.   

No Republican candidate in the history of the Party has ever gone into a general election with so many questions and obstacles, both self-inflicted and circumstantial.  Unless he can find a way to capture to hearts of the female vote his candidacy is doomed.

In 1920 American women were, for the first time, able to vote for president in all the states of the union.  The female vote accounted for 30% of the total votes cast in that election.  The women’s vote gradually increased but remained below the 50% threshold until the election of 1964 when nearly 51% of the voting electorate were women.   The female vote has exceeded the male vote ever since.

In fact, women have been the determining factor in five of the last six presidential elections.  A phenomenon often referred to as the “Gender Gap” reflects the fact that women over the past 24 years tend to prefer the Democratic nominee and have created a voting gap from three to thirteen percentage points in favor of any Democratic Party nominee.  In 2008 McCain won just 43% of the women’s vote compared to 56% for Barack Obama, the worst result for a Republican to date.   This long-term trend, in combination with a much higher turnout among female voters adds a significant layer of difficulty for any Republican not named Ronald Reagan (who won 58% of the women’s vote in the 1984 landslide to win the presidency).

The female vs male turnout as a percent of the overall votes cast during the past five presidential elections are as follows: http://www.ropercenter.cornell.edu/polls/us-elections/presidential-elections

 

Women

Men

            1996

54%

46%

            2000

54

46

            2004

54

46

            2008

55

45

            2012

53

47

 

The percentage of the women’s vote won by the respective Democratic and Republican candidates are as follows:

 

Democratic Candidate

Republican Candidate

             1996

54%

38%*

             2000

54

43

             2004

51

48

             2008

56

43

             2012

55

44

*Reflects the impact of Ross Perot who received 8% of female vote

This brings us to the 2016 election which for the first time in history may see a woman nominated for president.  Therefore, many of the estimates for the percentage of women voting in 2016 exceed what has been experienced in recent years.  Perhaps up to 56% of the overall vote will be female due in great part to the potential historic nature of this election cycle.

If that is the case, based on the winning campaign of George Bush in 2004, any Republican nominee will have to win at least 48% of the women’s vote as well as 56% of the men’s vote. 

Currently the Republican presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, is viewed favorably or somewhat favorably by only 29% of women (by comparison George Bush had a 54% favorable rating in May of 2004.) Therefore, his task, if nominated, is to somehow convince 45% of those women who have expressed a deep seated dislike to change their minds and vote for him plus make certain at least 60% of all who have expressed any favorability do in fact vote for him.  If not, Trump will lose the election in a landslide as it is estimated that over 14 million more women will vote than will men.

The strategy the Democrats will utilize in the fall will be to emphasize Trump’s checkered past with women including innumerable audio and video clips of his many inane statements relative to not only women but a myriad of other issues over the past 40 years.  Further, in a potentially devastating double play again using audio and video clips, he will also be portrayed as a race-baiting, avaricious, reprehensible and unethical capitalist.  If Trump’s counter strategy is to pander, he will fail as he will not be able to out-pander Hillary Clinton or any Democratic nominee in their willingness to say or promise anything they, rightly or wrongly, believe will appeal to women.  If his strategy is to deny or disavow all his previous statements and pronouncements he will appear insincere and duplicitous.

There is no doubt Hillary Clinton is an extraordinarily flawed candidate and under normal circumstances should be beatable even with all the built-in advantages the Democratic Party now enjoys in any presidential election.  However, as it stands today the Republicans may well squander this prime opportunity. 

Trump has been given essentially a free ride by the mainstream media and much of the conservative media in a non-transparent and cynical effort to boast their ratings or readership.  With the considerable aid of this same media the nominating process has arrived at a conclusion.  How will Trump respond to the anticipated and relentless attacks from the Democrats and their allies in the media using his own words against him?  Is there a viable way to do so?  And, without the usual non-sequiturs e.g. “Women love me”, how can he realistically capture a sufficient percentage of the women’s vote to win in November when he is starting from an unprecedented disadvantage.   

No Republican candidate in the history of the Party has ever gone into a general election with so many questions and obstacles, both self-inflicted and circumstantial.  Unless he can find a way to capture to hearts of the female vote his candidacy is doomed.