The Woman Card

the women card

Trump shows his hand after Primary sweep.

April 26.

A day that will live in infamy.

The media dubbed it the Acela Primary, for the high-speed train that runs through the five states–Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island–voting in the Democratic and Republican primaries.

It turned out to be more like a bullet train, cutting a swath between the frontrunners – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – and the other contenders – Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and John Kasich. After it was over, the putative nominees of both parties had been defined. Whatever path the others thought they might have were denied by the sheer simplicity of delegate math. There was no configuration in which anyone other than Trump and Clinton could realistically expect to be the nominee. After winning four of the most populous states by dramatic margins, Hillary had garnered 90 percent of the delegates needed to win. (Sanders won Rhode Island by a slim margin.) Trump, with the winner-take-all system the GOP has for some states, rose to 77 percent of the delegates he needs to win. (Sanders has 59 percent.)

At his victory speech Trump was defiant: “I consider myself the presumptive nominee,” he told the crowd.

For her part, Hillary was gracious, reaching out to Sanders’ supporters as she has throughout her campaign and praising Sanders in a conciliatory and, given his increasingly vicious attacks on her in recent weeks, generous way.

But that slate of wins for Trump and Clinton won’t be remembered for the numbers involved – although they were big – but for what was clearly the opening salvo in the general election, which seemed to begin in the hours before and after the polls closed.

Trump has been unabashed in his misogyny for years. It’s not new. His fixation on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, his years-long feud with Rosie O’Donnell, his comments about former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s looks, his attacks on Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields after she accused his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, of assaulting her. Two weeks ago Trump said women should be punished for having abortions. He walked the comment back, but only after an uproar in the mainstream media.

So it’s been no surprise that Trump has set his sights on Clinton, referring to her as “Crooked Hillary,” even as he’s under investigation for his for-profit Trump University and will be forced to testify at trial in the fall, just as the election looms.

In the hours before the primary, Trump told Fox News’ Fox and Friends, “I call her ‘Crooked Hillary’ because she’s crooked, and you know the only thing she’s got is the woman card,” Trump said. “That’s all she’s got, and it is pandering. It’s a weak card in her hands. In another person’s hands it could be a powerful card. I’d love to see a woman president, but she’s the wrong person.”

The Woman Card.

In her victory speech in Philadelphia, Clinton told the huge crowd of supporters, “Mr. Trump accused me of playing the, quote, ‘woman card.’ Well, if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”

The crowd went wild.

#DealMeIn and #womancard began trending on Twitter.

Had Trump overplayed his hand before the general election had officially started?

Trump didn’t seem to think so. When he gave his own victory speech at Trump Tower in New York, he repeated the same comment with an added flare, sending this salvo over the bow of the primary into the general election:

“Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get five percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the women’s card,” he said. “And the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her. Look how well I did with women tonight.”

If the words themselves didn’t make you cringe, the background did. Trump was flanked by campaign surrogates New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat, an investment banker.

Mrs. Christie rolled her eyes when Trump made his comment about Hillary. It didn’t take long for the video to go viral.

Did Trump expect Hillary to back down from her critiques of him and his misogynist, racist and Islamophobic rhetoric? She didn’t. Wednesday morning there was a new domain name – – and an actual woman card. The site lists Clinton’s policies and platforms on issues of interest to women from reproductive rights to economic issues to equal pay to family leave to Social Security.


But what about that five percent number Trump tossed out? And the absurd notion that being a woman is a plus in any job search, especially one no woman has held since the position first opened up in 1789?

Clinton has been the frontrunner in the race all along. The Acela Primary handed her close to two million votes in addition to the ten million she already had. The AP reports her vote total at 12,248,317 (compared to Sanders 9,103,171). Trump has 10,123,595.

Yet despite her status, media bias against Clinton has been massive. Considering that Clinton is now the titular nominee of the Democratic Party, some news network should have noted that historic fact.

It did not.

And what about Trump’s suggestion women don’t vote for Hillary?

That’s false, too. Clinton has captured female voters over 40 of all races, black women voters in all age groups by 75 percent to Sanders’ 25 percent. Latina voters at 70 percent. The only place Sanders has more women voters than Hillary is among Millennials, 80 percent of whom say they will vote for Hillary if Sanders is not the nominee and November is a long time away and <illennials do not like Trump.

Nor do women like him. Trump has the highest unfavorables with women voters of any candidate, but the gap is huge: 70 percent of women have an unfavorable view of Trump and even within his own party say they would not vote for him if he’s the nominee.

Ted Cruz hoped to capitalize on that well-known fact by announcing his pick for vice president on April 27.

It was an odd segue, considering Cruz lost big in the primary and has a only won 11 states to Trump’s 27 and has 547 delegates to Trump’s 956. (1,237 are needed to win the Republican nomination.)

Emily’s List didn’t skip a beat on Cruz nominating former Hewlett-Packard CEO and former presidential contender Carly Fiorina as his running mate. While Cruz no doubt hoped the pairing would both help him with women and in upcoming races, perhaps he should have made the announcement before he lost five states to Trump. And while Fiorina had a short burst of popularity at the beginning of the race, she never crested past eight percent in the polls.

Emily’s List was succinct, writing in an email that landed minutes after the CruzCarly announcement: “Just because a candidate is a woman doesn’t automatically make them a champion for women. And that couldn’t be more true for Carly: She’s spoken out against equal pay for women, is strongly anti-choice, and completely made up a story to try and discredit Planned Parenthood. We didn’t forget that, and we’re not about to let voters forget it either.”

Emily’s List continued, “Picking a woman for the vice presidency doesn’t make a candidate any more pro-woman. We know Ted Cruz’s dismal record when it comes to fighting for women and families, and this doesn’t change a thing. Regardless of whether Trump, Cruz, or John ‘Actually Defunded Planned Parenthood’ Kasich gets the GOP presidential nomination, this election will be critical for anyone who cares about women and families.”

That would be Hillary Clinton.

Is she indeed playing the woman card? She told Rachel Maddow Monday that her Cabinet would be 50 percent women, which would mirror the percentage of her current campaign staff that is women. Clinton has emphasized issues of importance to women and shared her own experiences as a woman. But hasn’t everyone been reaching out to women voters? And if not, why not?

Women voters outnumber and out vote men. They are also more reliably Democratic voters than men and have been so since 1980. Black women are the most reliable of all voters and they have voted overwhelmingly for Hillary as they did for President Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Without women voters, how would Trump win the election?

Yet on Wednesday, Trump doubled down on his woman card comments and sent a new hashtag trending #IfHillaryWereAMan by reiterating that comment to morning show audiences–which are predominantly female.

The total breakdown of voters isn’t yet available for the Acela Primary, but the Super Tuesday numbers were defining. In March, Presidential Gender Watch reported “Women demonstrated their dominance in the Democratic electorate on Super Tuesday. Exit polls showed that women were a greater proportion than men of the Democratic voters in every primary contest, with an average gap of about 16 points. In Georgia, for example, where Clinton bested Sanders by 43 points, exit polls estimate that women were 62% of the Democratic electorate and men were just 38% of Democratic voters. That gap, while it varies in size, is evident among black, white, and Latino voters, as well as among married and unmarried voters in nearly all states that held primary elections this week.”

PGW also noted, “Women also voted differently than their male counterparts in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries. There was a gender gap in vote choice – which measures the difference between women and men’s support for the winning candidate – in every contest, ranging from 6 to 16 points. Across the 13 contests where exit polls are available, the average size of the gender gap was 11.1 points. In all of these cases, women were more likely than men to support Hillary Clinton. Moreover, Clinton beat Sanders among women voters in all but one state – Vermont – where 83% of women and 91% of men supported their home state senator. In Oklahoma, where Sanders won overall, women were nearly split, with Clinton earning 48% of women’s support versus 46% women who voted for Sanders; 60% of men supported Sanders there, while just 33% of men voted for Clinton. Finally, women could be credited with tilting the Massachusetts primary in Clinton’s favor. Clinton won there by a 1-point margin, but with a 16-point gender gap; 57% of women and 41% of men in Massachusetts cast their ballots for Clinton. Though Sanders support by gender nearly mirrored Clinton’s, women made up 58% of the Democratic electorate in the state.”

What’s more, the key Democratic demographic of voters of color has also favored Clinton – and will definitely not favor Trump. Presidential Gender Watch reported, “Clinton’s support among women was strongest among women of color, particularly black women, who are the most reliably Democratic voters of any race/gender subgroup. Clinton won between 84% and 93% of black women’s votes in the states where race/gender exit poll findings were released. In Texas, the only state where data on Latino support by gender was released, Clinton won 72% of Latinas’ votes. The gender gaps in Clinton’s support among black and Latino voters are smaller, on average, than those among white voters, due to her overall dominance over Sanders among these groups. According to aggregate exit polls of Super Tuesday states, Clinton won 66% of all Latino voters and about 80% of all black voters.”

Considering that Sanders is a progressive candidate with far more to offer women than Trump, Cruz or Kasich and still Hillary won women overwhelmingly and a picture of the general election begins to emerge: Trump will be trumped by the woman card he sneers at so contemptuously as to make Mary Pat Christie roll her eyes.

It’s not all smooth sailing, of course. The actual nominations have to happen and the unhappy and somewhat embittered second-tier candidates and their surrogates continue to field theories of contested conventions. But with both Clinton and Trump clearly in line to hit their magic numbers, that seems less and less likely. Rachel Maddow noted on MSNBC Tuesday night that Sanders could win every remaining state including California and still not be able to catch up to Clinton’s massive lead. On April 27, Sanders’ team laid off several hundred workers, signaling the end of his campaign.

Cruz and Kasich made a strange pledge to work together to upset Trump, choosing particular states to focus on. Whether the voters go along with their plan remains to be seen. Whether the addition of a second unlikeable person to the Cruz ticket will help him with upcoming contests remains to be seen, but he still can’t best Trump at this point in the race.

The next contests are Indiana on May 3 and West Virginia on May 10 and the final contests, New Jersey and California are June 7.

As NPR noted, “Barring something unforseen, Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.” And will be playing the woman card all the way to the convention and beyond.