What if you threw a gender party and no one came? A nice catch from the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross allows us to add this to the Buried Lede Department. The Associated Press reported a couple of days ago on Team Hillary’s delight over Donald Trump’s personal attacks on Hillary and Bill Clinton, but only offered this nugget at the very end of the report. It turns out that claiming her physiology as a unique qualifier turned more voters off than on:
Trump’s eagerness to make gender a major issue has complicated the delicate balancing act she already faces as the first woman to head a major party ticket.
Clinton has stopped explicitly mentioning her role in history and joking about being the “youngest woman president.” That’s by design: Those kinds of direct appeals weren’t working with voters.
“De-emphasize the ‘first’ talk,” advised a research report done by Emily’s List. “They already know she’d be the first woman president,” the report said of donors, “but we don’t get anything by reminding them.”
Ross notes that recent polling showed that the gender argument may have alienated the other gender:
But while the strategy has worked to increase Trump’s unfavorable ratings with women, it could potentially backfire if Clinton’s focus on gender ends up alienating men.
Two national polls out this weekend suggest that that may be occurring. A Washington Post/ABC News poll has Trump leading Clinton 46 percent to 44 percent. Trump has a larger margin of support with men than Clinton does among women in that poll.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows the opposite. Clinton leads Trump 46 to 43 in that poll. She leads Trump 51 to 38 among women. Trump leads Clinton 49 to 40 among men.
Perhaps, but some of that may reflect a normal general-election gender split. In 2012, Mitt Romney won male voters by a 52/45 margin, not far off from the NBC/WSJ result, while Obama won women 55/44. Both results are within the margin of error from the NBC/WSJ splits. In 2004, the numbers looked different but the overall gender gap was similar; George W. Bush won men 55/44 while John Kerry won women 51/48, for a gender gap of +8 to the winner. In 2012, the gender gap was +4 to the winner, and now it’s +4 to Hillary, who leads in that poll.
So the issue may be less of “backfire” than of sheer ineffectiveness. The results from the Democratic primaries have already demonstrated that much, with Bernie Sanders competing well among women, and of late winning women on his way to a string of primary victories. Those trends began forming long before Trump started focusing his attacks on Hillary Clinton. The gender card does not appear to carry much weight even among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, so why would anyone think that it would have more impact among general-election voters? That shouldn’t have taken a study from Emily’s List (!) to figure out, but … that’s Team Hillary in a nutshell.
Voters aren’t interested in a candidate’s victimology self-assessment. They are interested in their own issues and concerns, and how those candidates address them. No one who made $57.5 million while serving as Secretary of State is going to convince anyone that she’s had a tough life on the margins or that her gender has impeded her progress to success. Those few who care about this already have their minds made up, and the rest couldn’t care less … as Democrats have already demonstrated far ahead of the general election.
Note: The headline was adapted from a classic Saturday Night Live Weekend Update joke … from a long time ago.