“White women voted for Trump!” Both Trump supporters, trying to defend him from charges of his blatant misogyny, and identitarian Trump critics, trying to condemn white women, will cite this fact. Is it true? Is it meaningful?
Yes, a majority of white women did in fact vote for Trump. Just as they had voted for Romney, McCain, and Bush before him. White people vote Republican. The Republican candidate won the white vote in every election since 1976, according to data available at Cornell University’s Roper Center For Public Opinion Research. (The data only goes back to 1976.)
A majority of white women also voted for the Republican in the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 election, elections for white CNN exit poll data was easily available. (Roper University data doesn’t break down gender by race, as CNN exit polls do.) In 1996, with Ross Perot running for president as a third-party, 43 percent of white women voted for Dole, and 48 percent for Clinton, while Dole won 49 percent of the white male vote. (2000’s exit polls did not appear to break down the racial vote by gender.)
Trump’s 52 percent share of the white women vote was the worst since 1996. Bush (2004), McCain, and Romney all exceeded 52 percent of the white women vote.
At the same time, the white male vote remains unchanged from 2004, so the gap between the white male vote and the white female vote continues to increase.
In short, Trump did win the white female vote, but that doesn’t imply that his sexism didn’t cost him anything or that white women are particularly supportive of Trump. White women were less supportive of Trump than they were of previous Republican presidential candidates.
A similar misleading narrative is at work when people argue that Trump performed well with minority voters, despite the fact that he had the second worst performance with minorities on record, as Bombs + Dollars has previously shown.