Why Did Women Vote for Donald Trump?
by Mark Setzler, High Point University and Alixandra B. Yanus, High Point University
Popular accounts of the 2016 election attribute Donald Trump’s victory to his mobilization of angry white men seeking to restore traditional values and social roles. But, over 40 percent of the female electorate also voted for him. And, despite Trump’s well-documented record of denigrating women, he won a majority of the white female vote. Our analysis explores the motivations of his women supporters, asking how partisanship, demographics, and beliefs motivated his supporters’ choice.
Despite the prevailing narrative about his electoral base being made up of working-class and not college-educated men, none of these demographic factors—including gender—were significant predictors of who chose to vote for Trump. Partisanship strongly influenced both men’s and women’s support, but sexism and racial resentment were even stronger predictors. Moreover, the influence of these biases was virtually identical for female and male voters. The voting gap literature often portrays women as a monolithic liberal voting bloc, but the female voters who cast their ballots for Trump shared much more in common with his male supporters than other women voters.