Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders crushed their opponents and conventional wisdom Tuesday night in New Hampshire, as Democratic female voters abandoned Hillary Clinton in favor of Sanders and Trump easily won the women’s vote despite his reputation for being crude towards them.
On Tuesday, Trump took 35 percent of the Republican vote. Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, was a distant second at 16 percent, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, finishing third. Exit polls show Trump dominated among all demographics, including women. Trump won 33 percent of the female vote in a nine-candidate race. Kasich had 16 percent, followed by Jeb Bush with 12 percent.
Those numbers follow Trump’s famous feud with Fox News Channel anchorMegyn Kelly over Trump’s derogatory statements about various women over the years and over Kelly herself.
Women in New Hampshire didn’t care.
“They’re not taking to the fainting couches and I think that’s one of two reasons why Trump is doing okay with women,” said Independent Women’s Forum Senior Fellow Gayle Trotter, who attracted national attention in 2013 for her passionate defense of the second amendment before the U.S. Senate.
“Women are tough and they understand that politics is not beanbag. They’re maybe slightly offended by some of things that he’s said, but they really care that he is tapping into these issues that seem to be pressing on our nation right now.”
Trotter says Trump also scores points with women for another unspoken reason.
“His other secret weapon are the women who are very successful and accomplished, who are going on the campaign trail for him. Exhibit A is his daughter, Ivanka,” said Trotter, noting Ivanka is over eight months pregnant. “He particularly noted Ivanka and said that she had been to seven events politicking for him. She is a great ambassador for him.”
So will Trump’s reputation ever catch up with him? Trotter doubts it.
“It’s hard to imagine. This is the only politician I’ve ever seen who uses a media firestorm as a campaign strategy. Not only does he say all of these kind of outrageous things, he embraces them. He is excited and proud of saying them,” said Trotter.
She says Trump appears immune to the controversies that normally sink campaigns.
“It’s hard to believe that he could really say anything worse than he’s already said or if he did that it would have any kind of backlash on him. All the political pundits and prognosticators said there’s no way he could recover from any of these comments. He’s proven them wrong time and time again,” said Trotter.
On the Democratic side, observers assumed Hillary Clinton would cruise to the nomination thanks to a stranglehold on the women’s vote. She did score a 55-44 margin among Democratic women in Iowa, but Sanders won a majority of female voters in New Hampshire by the very same margin.
Trotter says Hillary’s blatant and repeated playing of the gender card is turning women off.
“I think she really feels this nomination is owed to her for all of the time she has put in. Every time she goes out on the campaign trail, she’s talking about how hard she has worked. That does not seem to be resonating with Democratic voters who want to be inspired,” said Trotter.
She says Sanders is hitting that note with the Democratic base.
“Bernie Sanders is something very different than what we’ve seen in Washington. He is connecting with voters across the country. On top of that, he is offering something very, very different than what Hillary Clinton is,” said Trotter.
Sensing that female support was slipping, Clinton told a debate audience last week that Sanders could not label her as “establishment” because she was a woman and a woman has never been president. Trotter says that was a telling moment.
“That’s such a silly statement. That was, I think, the most defining moment of that debate. She’s a woman who has been in the corridors of power for decades,” said Trotter.
She says that line is in complete contradiction to the rest of Clinton’s case to Democratic voters.
“She is also trying to run on the idea that she’ll be a third term of President Barack Obama. She’s trying to have it both ways and I think the young women who are dissatisfied with the establishment are dissatisfied with that answer. It doesn’t answer’s Bernie Sanders’ criticism,” said Trotter.
Trotter says another colossal mistake was Hillary and her surrogates trying to shame women away from Sanders. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told supporters there was a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other. Feminist Gloria Steinem told HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” that young women backed Sanders because young men did.
“Those comments do not help Hillary Clinton. There are a lot of young women who expect there will be a woman president one day in their lifetimes, but Hillary Clinton is not the women they want to be commander-in-chief,” said Trotter.
On Wednesday afternoon, Republican Carly Fiorina suspended her campaign after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. In her Facebook announcement, Fiorina offered a very different vision of feminism than the one pitched by Clinton.
“To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology,” wrote Fiorina.
“It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts,” Fiorina added.
Trotter says Fiorina should be commended for her campaign.
“I think it’s great that she participated. I think she had a great message and a lot of really strong policy proposals. But I think not being on that debate stage really killed her campaign,” said Trotter.
She says the contrast between Clinton and Fiorina shows the hypocrisy of the liberals.
“Maybe if Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright had really put into practice their own philosophy of standing up for women and campaign for Carly Fiorina, we might have seen some difference,” said Trotter.
“Of course they were never going to do that, because it’s never about being a woman. It’s about having the proper ideology. That’s the key for leftist feminists,” said Trotter.