Seemed like only seconds after Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” in the final debate that women retaliated. In what Glamour magazine dubbed a “bad-ass backlash” hashtags like #NastyWomenVote and jokes about Nasty Woman being Trump’s favorite fragrance sprang up, Janet Jackson’s Nasty video surged, and all manner of NW merchandise like i-phone cases and T-shirts benefiting Planned Parenthood instantly went up for sale.
Polls had been showing for months that The Donald was tanking with female voters – Democrats and Republicans alike. It’s true he still has a few gun-totin’ mamas and anti-abortion fanatics waving hot pink Women for Trump signs, but far more women jumped ship for good back when the kiss-and-crotch-grab tape came out. In a campaign where “last straws” come almost daily, it’s hard to say if “nasty woman” is the final one.
But it won’t matter. When it comes to the female vote, the Waylon Jennings song says it all: She’s Gone, Gone, Gone. Cryin’ won’t bring her back.
We’ve had a reliable gender gap in every presidential election since 1980, with women voting on average 8 points ahead of men favoring Democratic candidates. That doesn’t mean the Ds have always won, because there were times when the even higher percentages of men went for the Republican (Reagan, H.W. Bush).
But what of the future? Females are now the majority – of the population, of registered voters, and of those who actually show up on Election Day. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight graphic showing how the election map would look if only women voted might be a clue: Clinton would swamp Trump 458-80 in the Electoral College.
With the Senate up for grabs this year the women’s vote could be decisive, as it was in 2006 when the Senate turned blue as Jim Webb was elected in Virginia with African American women’s votes tipping the balance. Latest polls show Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) down eight points in her re-election bid since Nastywomangate. Other Republican incumbents are teetering too — there’s a chance even little Marco might fall in Florida, where Latina women could make the difference. And for the first time in years, Republicans are openly worrying about losing the House, or at minimum emerging with a drastically reduced majority.
Even with a seeming lock on the election, women’s groups aren’t letting up. Feminist Majority is putting resources into formerly safe Republican states like Arizona, the NOW Pac is phone banking and pounding the pavement in battleground states, and Emily’s List is dedicating over $400 million to pro-choice female candidates.
A future like the one previewed by Nate Silver may never materialize – but it’s getting mighty close for one Donald J. Trump.