“Women! I like women. I like women,” Donald Trump said on Monday. Nobody told him that you have to say “I like women” three times if you really want the spell to work. Only then will Bloody Karen appear in the mirror. Once that happens, you’re in trouble. You can only distract her with the sales rack at T.J.Maxx or a school-board meeting. A reliable voting bloc she is not.
But Trump is in trouble against Joe Biden, with two weeks before Election Day, and invoking white suburban women is one of the only tools he has left at his disposal. You can sort of see why he thinks it might work. Trump performed well with white suburban voters in 2016. Four years later, the suburbs are souring on Trump and his party. Trump seems to realize this, hence a series of recent, and uniformly bizarre, appeals to white women.
In August, Trump logged on and declared his unshakable support for my gender. So eager was he to prove his commitment to (some) ladies that he decided to build us a statue.
What’s going on with the statue? Hell if I know. Not that it really matters; nobody cares about the statue, not even the white suburban ladies Trump is trying so hard to woo.
The statue, however, still matters. The stupidity of Trump’s gambit reveals his potent desperation. It coincided with one of his most explicitly racist appeals to his base: The suburbs are under attack from troublesome low-income people and he, said the Savior of the Cul-de-sac, will stop it. “But suburban women, they should like me more than anybody here tonight because I ended the regulation that destroyed your neighborhood,” he said, referring to a housing anti-discrimination rule that he killed. “I ended the regulation that brought crime to the suburbs, and you’re going to live the American Dream. And that’s what you’re going to do. So can I ask you to do me a favor, suburban women? Will you please like me? Please. Please. I saved your damn neighborhood, okay?” Trump also made a crack about it no longer being acceptable to refer to “suburban housewives,” a joke he reported on Monday.
This isn’t going to work either, for a couple of reasons: Trump did not save the suburbs. The suburbs have diversified. Many of the voters who now live there are not the kind of voters who believe their neighborhoods need to be “saved” from the rabble. Trump did, however, plunge a lot of middle-class families into serious economic difficulty this year, which may prove difficult for even the most immigrant-loathing white suburban woman to ignore. And if you’re going to pretend that you think a bloc of female voters is important, maybe don’t keep making jokes about how they’re actually hysterical snowflakes who hate it when someone calls them a housewife.
The gender gap in Trump’s support nearly cost him the election in 2016, and it’s widened with time. The reasons are varied and complicated. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is massively unpopular, and while credible allegations of sexual harassment and assault weren’t enough to cost him either the Republican nomination or the presidency four years ago, the intervening years have only heaped more disgrace and scandal on the White House. The pugilistic rhetoric that appeals to white male voters may in fact be hurting the president with the very white suburban moms he’s trying to reach. Polling from the New York Times and Siena College shows that Biden leads Trump by an astonishing 23 points with suburban women, regardless of race, in battleground states.
Trump can plead and plead. But it looks like Karen is moving on, at least for now.