Opinion by Lyz LenzNovember 27, 2020 at 9:31 a.m. MSTAdd to list
Lyz Lenz is a journalist and the author of “God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America.”
On Jan. 21, 2017, hundreds of thousands of women flooded Washington and other cities across the United States for what has been called the largest single-day protest in American history. In pink “pussyhats,” they protested the inauguration of a president accused of sexual assault whose misogyny had become a feature of his campaign.
This was the rage of women — a force that, we were told, would be a cleansing power in U.S. politics. Hillary Clinton’s loss would be the catalyst for a new era of empowered womanhood. Americans were promised a “pink wave” of self-proclaimed “nasty women” who would reshape the Democratic Party and play a bigger role in government. Indeed, in 2018, a record number of women — notably including Black women and other women of color — were elected to local and federal offices. This, prognosticators said, was the beginning of the revolution.
But what actually happened? Certainly, women made an impressive impact. But consider White women specifically. The 2016 exit polls told us that 52 percent of White women voted for Donald Trump. As with most exit polls, that number turned out to be not quite accurate: By August 2018, a Pew Research analysisestimated that the percentage of White women who voted for Trump in 2016 was actually closer to 47 percent, compared with 45 percent for Clinton. Still not great.
Fast forward to Election Day 2020: Exit polling indicates that Trump’s support hadincreased among White women, with some major polls putting it at 55 percent. Though we can again expect the eventual figure to be adjusted, the reality of Trump’s support is not likely to change. And that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
White women are not a swing voting bloc. In the past 18 presidential elections, they have repeatedly voted for the Republican candidate, breaking only for Lyndon B. Johnson and for Bill Clinton’s second term. As political scientist Jane Junn wrotein 2016, “The elephant in the room is white and female, and she has been standing there since 1952.”