Claiming he was “saving suburbia” at a campaign rally in Lansing, Michigan, the President pitched himself as the candidate for suburban women voters because he’s “getting your kids back to school” and “getting your husbands — they want to get back to work. We’re getting your husbands back to work.”
While Trump focused on “husbands” during his speech in Michigan on Tuesday, the coronavirus pandemic has had a much larger effect on women in the work place.
The International Monetary Fund warned in July that the pandemic recession is hurting women more than men, and job losses during the economic downturn are happening in sectors of the economy where women are disproportionately represented. The annual Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org showed one in four women reporting they are considering downshifting their career or stepping out of the work place entirely, partly due to the demands the pandemic has placed placed on working mothers.
Trump is deeply unpopular among female voters and polls show the President consistently lagging behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden in surveys of women. He has made several attempts at wooing female voters in recent weeks — at one point even saying, “Suburban women, will you please like me?” during a campaign rally — but has often used sexist and demeaning language when referring to women, especially his political opponents such as Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.
The President in recent months has openly begged for the support of what he calls the “suburban housewives of America.”
“The women come up to me, the women who they say don’t like me — they actually do like me a lot,” Trump said in Nevada earlier this month. “Suburban women, please vote for me. I’m saving your house. I’m saving your community. I’m keeping your crime way down.”
Trump has tried to close his gap with women by focusing on the suburbs specifically, believing that those living outside America’s largest cities, who broke from Republicans in the midterms two years ago, can be reeled back in with a blunt message on safety and security.
But Trump’s message to them has at times been delivered in what critics say are coded racist appeals, including claiming that efforts to increase affordable housing in the suburbs represented an existential threat.
“If (Biden) ever got to run this country and they ran it the way he wants to run it, our suburbs would be gone, our suburbs would be gone,” Trump said at the first presidential debate. “And you would see problems like you have never seen.”
With just days until the presidential election, it’s unclear what effect Trump’s efforts will have on the enormous gender gap hindering his reelection prospects.
White women in particular seem to be moving away from Trump in droves. A look at CNN polls taken since Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders left the race in April reveal that Biden has led among White female registered voters by an average of 13 points.
In 2016, Trump averaged a 5 point advantage among White women after Sanders exited that race.
This means that Biden’s doing 18 points better among White women in CNN’s pre-election polls than Hillary Clinton did.