Some women who voted for President Trump may be having doubts, according to a recent focus group.
Although they’re not yet regretting their vote, many female Trump voters were discouraged by Trump’s rollout of the failed health care bill and disappointed by his proposed budget, which would cut funding for programs that help children and the elderly, such as after-school programs and Meals on Wheels.
The focus groups, which were conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, collected observations from 52 women in battleground states where there was disappointing turnout for Democrats in 2016 and in midterm elections.
The researchers found that when presented with the Congressional Budget Office’s findings about the AHCA and Trump’s proposed budget, the women who voted for Trump didn’t push back, which is how many Trump voters have previously responded when presented with negative information about him. Instead, voters expressed doubts about the health plan and budget, and concern that Trump’s wealth — which was such an asset to him during the election — may be impeding his ability to understand their needs.
“During the campaign, his wealth worked for him: he was an independent actor, he couldn’t be influenced the same way, he didn’t need the money, all those arguments were powerful,” says Page Gardner, founder and president of Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund. “You now see that his wealth has become in some ways a negative for him. Because if he’s proposing all these cuts which they can’t understand, the wealth is now ‘he doesn’t understand my life, he’s lived a pampered life, he doesn’t get it, he’s never walked in my shoes.'”
“That’s very important I think, because these are voters who voted for him because they thought he understood their frustration and their needs,” she said.
Gardner said the Clinton voters in the focus group appeared extra energized by the Trump presidency so far, a sentiment that could bode well for Democrats in the 2018 midterms. Even in groups where they were outnumbered by Trump supporters, the anti-Trump participants were so vocal that focus group moderators had to coax the Trump supporters into the discussion. The takeaway, according to the report on the focus groups, was that women who supported Trump are having some serious doubts. They still supported his “straight-shooter” approach and wanted him to deal with immigration and border control, but they also called him a “hot head,” “egotistical,” and worried his lack of experience in foreign affairs could “lead to war.”
When presented with the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the health care bill, which concluded that the plan would cut $833 billion from Medicaid care for seniors and disabled people and leave 24 million people uninsured by 2026, women in the focus group called the plan “scary,” “unsettling,” and “ridiculous.” Even Trump voters did not push back on the veracity of the CBO’s assessment or try to defend the bill, Gardner said.
Other polls have shown Trump’s support eroding since he took office, but pollsters at Quinnipiac, which released a poll earlier this month, say that so far they haven’t seen a significant drop in Trump support among women who voted for him.
“The women who voted for him are staying with him,” says Tim Malloy of Quinnipiac.