People are processing last week’s election shocker in a million different ways, many of them involving large quantities of alcohol. But I swear I’ve read, heard, and been asked to explain one particular aspect of the vote at least a million times: How on God’s green earth did Hillary Clinton fail to win the support of white women?
The prevailing sense seems to be that Clinton was a candidate inexplicably, uncommonly unpalatable to this voting block. After all, women trend Democratic, right? Plus, this time around, there was a woman at the top of the Democratic ticket. And on top of that, Clinton’s opponent was a proudly vulgar, overtly misogynistic, self-proclaimed sexual predator. So what the hell happened with white women?
I’ll tell you what happened. Nothing. Not a damn thing. Yes, women generally trend Democratic. But white women—and there are still a lot of them in the U.S.—do not. They voted for Donald Trump for the same complicated set of reasons they consistently vote for other Republican presidential candidates; failing to win their support is a broad problem for Democrats, and not a specific failing of Hillary Clinton.
Indeed, far from losing white women by some noteworthy margin, Hillary pulled a slightly larger percentage of their vote (43 percent to Trump’s 53 percent) than Obama did against Romney (42 percent to 56 percent). The misogynistic Trump did worse among white women than George W. Bush did against John Kerry (55 percent to 44 percent). And even the bigger-than-Elvis rockstar Obama of 2008 lost white women to John McCain, 46 percent to 53 percent. In fact, Hillary did manage to peel away white, college-educated women from Trump—a group that actually went for Romney by 6 points in 2012.