Sunday, May 1, 2016

Trump Lays His Gender Card On the Table

Dana Milbank has an excellent piece in the Washington Post called "Trump's Calculated Misogyny" that is a must read. In it he makes the case, convincingly I might add, that Trump's assertion that Hillary is playing the woman card was not an accident. It was a deliberate attempt to tap into a seething rage within a certain segment of the electorate. He writes,
Trump orchestrated his primary campaign success on the basis of economic and racial resentment. Now he's building a general-election strategy - against the first woman to lead a major party's presidential ticket - on gender resentment.
While the strategy is despicable on its merits, it does have its basis in logic. As Milbank points out, "Trump has already lost the votes of liberal and moderate women (and of liberal men, who, like women, tended to be even more pro-Clinton when they were primed with the gender-role question). Playing the man card - appealing to a male sense of feeling threatened by changing gender roles - can help Trump boost turnout among conservative and evangelical Christian men, while peeling off some support from non-white men and older, anti-feminist women."

Could it work? Milbank doesn't think so, but it could make things dicey. One study found that men whose spouses earned more money than they did and were asked about it were far more likely to prefer Trump over Clinton. Those who weren't asked about their income disparities preferred Clinton over Trump. There was a 24 point variation between both sets of respondents. That is frightening when you think about it. What it means is that if Trump can get some traction with this gender card issue, he can turn a would-be rout into a nail biter in November.

Throughout this entire campaign, Donald Trump has done everything imaginable to alienate virtually every conceivable minority group in the country. Now he's going after women. Far from being a gaffe, he seems to have figured out what so many of his contemporaries haven't: that the GOP isn't terribly popular with minority and women voters. The last two presidential elections bare this out. He is therefore gambling everything on getting the lion's share of the one demographic group that has supported Republicans for decades. And if he manages to pull it off, he will have accomplished the unthinkable. And if he doesn't, he will simply be yet another in a long line of Republican nominees who couldn't accept an ever-changing and pluralistic society, i.e., the 21st century.

I have said this repeatedly and I shall now say it again. Donald Trump can win this thing. He may be a misogynistic, racist xenophobe, or perhaps he is just pandering to those elements. There's no way to tell with him. But whatever else he might be, he is no flake. Yes, he's a con man selling snake oil to a desperate and gullible electorate, but like most con men, he isn't selling something his audience doesn't already want. As any half-way decent salesperson will tell you, nobody sells a product that somebody isn't willing to buy.

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