As hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets on Saturday to vent their discontent with President Donald Trump’s first year in office, the president, who is supported by just 29 percent of women, did what he does best. He played the troll.
“Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March,” he tweeted, instructing women to “get out there to celebrate the historic milestones” of his presidency.
If there is another Women’s March a year from now, Trump may indeed get his wish to see women celebrating. It took some time to build, but the women’s backlash against Trump is ready to rain some fire and fury on him.
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In addition to marching, women are running – for office – at a pace that is on course to shatter records. The Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University reports that 49 women are either running or planning to run for the Senate this year (previous record: 40), 389 for the House (previous record: 298) and 79 for governorships (previous record: 34 in 1994). The vast majority are Democrats.
Even as women marched Saturday, senators were marching into the office of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who led the successful effort to douse the latest conflagration Trump set. Collins, and fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the women who thwarted the president on Obamacare, were also at the core of the group defusing an immigration showdown Trump had fanned with an ad accusing Democrats of being complicit in murder.
In off-year elections and polls, meanwhile, a gender chasm has opened. In Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Democrat Ralph Northam won women by 22 points, larger even than Hillary Clinton’s 17-point margin in the commonwealth. Northam won 48 percent of white women, up from Clinton’s 41 percent. In the Alabama Senate race, Democrat Doug Jones beat Roy Moore by 16 points among women and came close to Moore among white college-educated women.
The new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Democrats with a 57 percent to 31 percent advantage among women going into November’s midterm elections, twice the advantage Clinton had in 2016. Likewise, December’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that women favored Democratic control of Congress by 20 points – 32 points among college-educated women.
In a sense, gravity is catching up with Trump after “Access Hollywood,” Roy Moore, talk of women “bleeding,” and a #MeToo movement that has reached everywhere but the male-dominated White House – complete with a male-dominated Cabinet that is working with a male-dominated Republican congressional leadership.
Particularly striking is that attitudes of women toward Trump have little to do with the economy or conventional “women’s issues.” Rather, the antipathy comes from a perception that he’s dangerous and unstable. Republicans who plan to overcome the gender gap by talking about the economy and tax cuts are wasting their breath.
In the Post-ABC poll, there were relatively small gender gaps on immigration, race and the Russia probe. But there were huge gaps on Trump’s mental stability (39 percent of women think him stable vs. 57 percent of men) and whether Trump can be trusted with nukes (only 30 percent of women think so, compared with 46 percent of men). Forty-two percent of women are very concerned Trump will launch an unjustified nuclear attack, compared with just 22 percent of men.
When The Washington Post’s polling wizard, Scott Clement, ran analyses to control for people’s partisan leanings, he found that gender had no significant effect on whether people give Trump credit for the economy. Even after controlling for partisanship, however, Clement found that women were 6 percentage points more likely to think Trump mentally unstable and 9 points more likely to be very concerned about him starting a nuclear war.
This is consistent with what FiveThirtyEight observed this week: Women disapprove of Trump more than men do, regardless of party or race. That is, Republican women like Trump less than Republican men, and black Republican women like Trump less than black Republican men.
Why? A combination of Trump’s nuclear threats (women are generally considered more dovish), the instability he has set off at home, and his behavior toward women have left many anxious, angry and activated.
Years ago, in a long line of misogynistic comments, Trump proclaimed that criticism doesn’t matter, “as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
It’s entirely fitting that this man has sparked a mass movement of women poised to deliver a kick to his.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter @Milbank.