Keli Goff Asks, Can Any Republican Win the Women’s Vote?

Keli Goff

Clinton is slipping with female voters, providing an opening for Republicans. Can any of them exploit it—or are they just too extreme? 
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to dominate headlines and airtime thanks in part to his controversial comments about women, from Megyn Kelly to Rosie O’Donnell. But that doesn’t change one fact: Almost no one actually believes Donald Trump has a chance at winning the nomination or the presidency.

With new polls showing Hillary Clinton’s support slipping with female voters, there is a clear opening for the GOP. The question is which Republican candidate has the best shot at seizing the opportunity—despite the gender train-wreck that Trump’s candidacy has been so far?

While it has been treated as somewhat of a given that Hillary Clinton would easily win female voters, history has proven the reality to be much more complicated. For starters, Clinton has a complicated relationship with female voters. Most female candidates do.

Going back to her husband’s 1992 campaign when she made her infamous “cookies” crack, which was perceived as a slight to stay-at-home mothers, women have tended to be divided about Clinton. She lost the women’s vote in early primary states Iowa and South Carolina to Barack Obama. A potential challenge for a Clinton’s current campaign is that a January poll found that while 69 percent of Democratic women said it is important to see a female president in their lifetime, only 20 percent of Republican women said the same.

“Being a woman does not give you the right to be the next president,” said Republican strategist Susan Del Percio in a phone interview. “Whether you’re Carly Fiorina or Hillary Clinton. It’s going to be your campaign that matters.”

And at the moment, Clinton’s campaign is being weighed down by an email server scandal, which seems to be affecting her poll numbers. A new Wall Street Journal poll has found that her favorability with white female voters declined by 10 percent in one month. Del Percio and another Republican strategist, Cheri Jacobus, both predicted that Clinton’s slip could provide an opening for a candidate like Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Though a late entrant to the race, and therefore not enjoying the coverage that some other candidates are, Kasich appears to be one of the GOP’s best hopes for winning female voters—across party and racial lines —in a general election. As governor of Ohio, one of the most important presidential battleground states in the nation, his previous campaigns should be considered a decent indicator of his appeal to different types of American voters—and exit polls for his 2014 re-election indicate he appeals to female voters in a major way. He won 60 percent of female voters, including 71 percent of white female voters.

Also likely to help his case was his recent debate performance. While other candidates generated more airtime and attention, Kasich turned in a solid performance that displayed compassion on issues such as poverty and even same-sex marriage, and most important, avoided any controversial statements likely to be used in an attack ad later. Not all of the other candidates can say the same.

While Trump has been most widely criticized for alienating women with his debate performance, Clinton has made clear she believes he’s not the only one. She took aim at Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who had what many considered a stellar performance in the debate. Clinton said: “When one of their major candidates, a much younger man, the senator from Florida, says there should be no exceptions for rape and incest, that is as offensive and as troubling a comment as you can hear from a major candidate running for the presidency.”

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Source: The Daily Beast | Keli Goff

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