Gender did decide the presidential election, just not in the way that many expected. We know that the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump wasn’t decided by female versus male voters, because approximately 52% of white women voted for Donald Trump.
New data suggests that Republicans, especially women who voted for Trump, may not see sexism the way Democrats do.
After party loyalty, reactions to Trump’s comments towards women was the number one indicator of favorability towards Donald Trump, according to new findings from nonpartisan research group PerryUndem’s new survey, The State of the Union on Gender Equality, Sexism, and Women’s Rights. In particular, Trump supporters of both sexes tended to be much less outraged about Trump’s comments that he could grab women “by the pussy.”
Only 51% of Republican women said Trump’s comments upset them, and 65% of Republican men said they were barely or not at all outraged by the remarks. By comparison, 83% of Democrats, 79% of black women and 74% of black men said they were extremely or somewhat upset by Trump’s comments. For Democrats and Trump opponents, the comments activated opposition: outrage at Trump’s comments about women is the #1 reason people gave for taking action after the election, stronger than political ideology or the belief that the country would be better off under female leadership.
Throughout the election, many liberal observers were surprised that women voters would support a candidate who talks about women the way Trump does, especially with such a qualified woman in the race.
But Republican women have a profoundly different experience and perception of sexism than Democratic and Independent women do. Only 15% of Republican women say they think sexism is a “big” problem (compared to 45% of Democratic women). Republicans were half as likely as Democrats to say they felt unequal in society because of their gender (50% of Democratic women said they felt unequal, compared to 26% of Republicans) and twice as likely to say that many women interpret innocent remarks as sexist. Nearly half (49%) of women who voted for Trump say they had never felt unequal in society for any reason, and 39% of women who voted for Trump said that there were as many or more women in positions of power in society as men (only 17% of women who voted for Clinton agreed.) A quarter of female Trump voters say men simply make better political leaders, while 34% of female Trump voters disagree that the country would be better with more women in office.
People of color — 60% of black women and 55% of Latina women — were most likely to say that sexism played a role in Hillary Clinton’s loss, while only 9% of Republican women and 4% of women who voted for Trump say sexism had anything to do with the outcome.
The only group who sees less sexism than Republican women is Republican men. Sixty-four percent of Republican men believe women have equal or more financial stability than men, 46% say there are equal or more women in positions of power in society, and 39% say full equality has been achieved (compared to 20% of all adults.) And 29% of Republican men say that grabbing a woman “by the pussy” without her consent is not sexual assault, or that they’re not sure.