Worth keeping an eye on, as the GOP is hoping this issue can potentially swing a few well-placed votes back their way in 2022.
Trans athletes competing in women’s sports is too niche a subject to do the sort of heavy electoral damage that “defund the police” apparently did to Dems in the last election, I think, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. It has gut-level “emperor’s new clothes” appeal to the average joe, who’s been browbeaten by progressives insisting that trans women aren’t meaningfully different from biological women and who then watches a transgender woman smoke the field in, say, a track-and-field race. It’s an irresistible target for satirists who are willing to get crosswise with wokesters and lately it’s proved of interest to Trump, who flagged it in his address to CPAC. When your brand is political incorrectness, you’re almost obliged to call BS on the heavy-handed ideological effort to ignore biological differences.
Overall, 53% of registered voters support banning transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports, versus a third who oppose such a ban. The breakdown from there (read the full crosstabs):
— Men: 59% support a ban, 29% oppose
— Women: 46% support a ban, 34% oppose
— Republicans: 74% support a ban, 15% oppose
— Dems: 40% support a ban, 42% oppose
— Independents: 49% support a ban, 33% oppose
— Gen Z: 43% support a ban, 44% oppose
— Millennials: 56% support a ban, 28% oppose
— Baby boomers: 50% support a ban, 32% oppose
Independents are solidly on the Republican side of the question and Democrats are evenly split, a result apt to make party leaders nervous given how their cultural extremism over police defunding scared some nonwhite conservative-leaning Dems into voting for Trump in November. As for why GOP politicians are interested in this subject, they’re being both reactive and proactive. They’re reacting to Biden’s early executive order applying SCOTUS’s Bostock decision on sex discrimination to school sports with a surfeit of bills aimed at making sure athletes compete against athletes of the same biological sex. As for the proactive part, they know Biden won the election by cleaning up in the suburbs, a traditionally Republican demographic. This issue is their chance to woo some of those voters back:
Some Republicans say touting the issue will unite two key elements of a winning electoral coalition: the party’s socially conservative base, which mostly rejects the expansion of gay and transgender rights, and more moderate voters in the suburbs, who are less reliable GOP supporters but may revolt against what they see as Democratic overreach…
“This is the wedge issue that will bring suburban women back to the polls and increase their support for Republicans, and Republicans would be foolish not to lean into it,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, a socially conservative group that has been privately urging Republicans to take on the subject since last year.
“I hear from mothers all the time who are getting up at the crack of dawn to take their daughters to swim practice or attending all-weekend track meets, and they do not want biological men competing on their daughters’ teams. They know that it would be detrimental to their daughters’ abilities to achieve scholarships and recognition,” Nance added.
Trump tried pandering to suburban voters last year by promising to keep low-income housing out of their neighborhoods, hoping that that would help win them back. In the end it wasn’t enough. Republicans are now aiming to reach suburban parents on a matter of more intimate concern, whether their daughters are being cheated out of athletic accolades and potentially admission to the colleges of their choice by a non-level playing field engineered by leftist orthodoxy. And if you dig into the crosstabs of Morning Consult’s poll, you’ll find that there *is* some evidence in the data that parents are more interested in this subject. The age group that’s most eager to ban trans athletes from women’s sports is the 35-44 crowd, where 55 percent at least somewhat support doing so. Normally in polls touching on matters of sex and sexuality you’d expect older demographics to be more ardently opposed, but fortysomethings are the people who are most likely to have teenaged daughters competing at school. Go figure that their views on letting trans athletes into those competitions are stronger.
The same goes for class. Typically I’d expect lower-income people to have more culturally conservative views than higher earners with elite educations, but that trend reverses here. Just 49 percent of people who earn less than $50,000 per year somewhat support banning trans athletes from women’s sports. Among the group earning more than $100,000, 56 percent do. Which group is more likely to have a daughter attending a school that’s sufficiently well-funded that it can sponsor a variety of women’s sports? And where are those schools more likely to be found, in cities or upscale suburbs?
So yeah, maybe there’s room here for marginal gains among suburbanites. Although, between the end of the pandemic and the economic recovery, one wonders how much spare attention voters will have to devote to this subject in 2022. The GOP will do its best.
Here’s Trump’s commentary at CPAC. One last point: There’s reason to believe that the true number of Americans who oppose letting trans athletes compete in women’s sports is greater than it is in the Morning Consult. Peek at the sample there and you’ll find that 53 percent of people polled said they voted for Biden in 2020 versus just 36 percent who said they voted for Trump. The actual electorate was far more right-wing than that, obviously, which means MC is almost certainly undercounting how many Americans take a more conservative view of this.