Donald Trump now runs around 20 points behind with women voters.
But one large group of women overwhelmingly supports him. Who are they? In a must-read City Journal article, Kay Hymowitz explains:
But while the media have been celebrating Republican women who finally “get it,” they have been less vocal about a striking class and education divide that should be a familiar theme in this election. Yes, college-educated women are overwhelmingly for Clinton; but women without college degrees are sticking with the Republican nominee. They may be less enthusiastic than they were in 2012, when they overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney, and they are far less gung-ho than the almost two-thirds of their male counterparts in the Trump camp. Still, while the polls vary widely, Trump runs as high as 27 points ahead among white women without a college degree, higher than Clinton’s 23-point advantage among college-educated women.
The media portrays these less-educated white women as evangelical Christians who are afraid of getting out of traditional roles and are uncomfortable with strong women in top jobs. Hymowitz's research points to a different conclusion. She cites "Mawmaw," the memorable grandmother in J.D. Vance's bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy as an example of a white, less educated woman who wasn't afraid to rule the roost. MawMaw had a profound (and good) effect on Vance's life.
Not that most of Trump’s female supporters resemble Mawmaw. They work in insurance offices, hospitals, or schools, where they have to put on proper attire and say “Pardon me” without thinking when they bump into someone. Still, away from work, they are familiar with rural life and the coarser manners that sometimes go along with it. Their husbands or uncles may drive a truck; maybe their brother-in-law is a fireman or a plumber, men who come home muddy, greasy, and smelling more like an oil spill than Valentino Uomo. In her recent book Strangers in Their Own Land, the sociologist Arlie Hochschild profiles a single, 60-year-old Lake Charles, Louisiana accountant, a Pentecostal with “a direct, forceful manner.” “I learned to handle a shotgun when I was six, picking off cottonmouth and copperhead snakes,” she tells Hochschild. “My daddy used to say if you shoot ‘em, you clean ‘em and eat ‘em.”
Unlike perhaps the majority of college-educated women, these women are likely to have male relatives who serve in the military. They are angry at more educated women who don't have sons and husbands serving in dangerous places and who never worry about IEDs. They have contempt for Hillary Clinton and have an answer for her famous question before the Benghazi hearings—“What difference at this point does it make?”If somebody dear to you is in the military, it makes a hell of a lot of difference.
But how do they feel about Trump's vulgarity?
None of this means that Trump-supporting women approve of the candidate’s wandering hands and foul mouth. But they take for granted a certain degree of bawdiness in relations between the sexes. “When a group of women are together, we’re talking just as nasty as the guys,” a Trump-supporting teacher from Staten Island told me. “We’re all guilty.”
At any rate, she continues, she doesn’t get the gap between, on the one hand, empowered feminist talk—the quasi-ironic embrace of terms like “bitch” and “nasty woman”—and the reluctance to say anything when they’re mistreated by a man, on the other. (Or when they say they were mistreated; a lot of Trump women are extremely skeptical.) “All of these liberal women, I find it funny they’re so outspoken fighting for women’s rights and now they’re afraid? It’s all bullshit.” Atlantic writer Molly Ball once asked Ivana Trump, Donald’s first wife, whether it was “painful” to be “treated like she was disposable, discarded abruptly after more than a decade of marriage for a younger woman?” “Ivana harrumphed . . . ‘I am Eastern European woman. I am strong.’”
This language and worldview is a planet apart from our Trump-o-phobic media, professional, and political class, among whom I include myself. We were raised to “use our words,” not gasoline cans and pick-up trucks. We work with men who sweat primarily when they go to the gym. We intuitively sense the line between playfully suggestive and inappropriate, a word that has become oddly resurgent in this era of the bourgeois f-bomb.
To understand this election, we should have spent much more time talking to women at ease with skinning a snake or having nightly dinner with a bone-tired man with calloused hands and few words. Had we done so, we might be less surprised by the results next Tuesday, whatever they might be.
These are likely women who resent government regulations that intrude in their lives, don't want to pay higher taxes to support "free college" for people who take advantages for granted, and can tell when somebody is not giving a straight answer on guns. That they are largely forgotten, or were before this election, says a lot about how the United States has changed with the ascent of a our current elite.