White Women: Traitors for Trump?

Research Category: Social Sciences, Business, and Law
Presenter: Kathryn Schmitt
PI: Kathryn Schmitt, Kirsten Rodine Hardy

Many American citizens and political pollsters alike were shocked by the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Americans on both sides of the aisle wonder what went awry with predictions and how certain demographics of voters—white women, in particular—voted in such strong numbers seemingly in contradiction to their own interests. While this was historically the largest gender gap in presidential election voting, Trump still garnered a significant female vote, and the margins on some more nuanced demographic lines reveal that intersectionalities of race and class specifically sway the vote of “women” overall. Factors such as education, marital status, religion, age, income, keystone policy issue, and strength of party affiliation have also indicated voting behavior historically and in other levels of government. This research utilizes multi-method analyses of both quantitative and qualitative data to examine what other demographic factors predicted that white women would vote for Donald Trump despite his lack of feminist policy and his open disrespect for women. Exit poll data from sources such as PEW and Statista are the primary sources of demographic statistics, and an analysis of this data will begin to sketch a more specific archetype of those white female voters. The answer to this research question could aid predictions for future elections involving female candidates and illuminate some misunderstood structures underlying gender socialization and voting behavior. Understanding the divisions fracturing a national community of women could ultimately help to heal those fissures and fulfill the destiny that women as an interest group are stronger together.