Will College-Educated White Women Vote for a Sexist?

With the release of a maternity leave policy (no matter how flawed), it is clear that Kellyanne Conway is trying to present an alternative Trump that will appeal to suburban (mostly college-educated) white women. It is important to note that – after Labor Day – the campaign is still trying to make their candidate appealing to people who have traditionally voted Republican. A huge poll this month by the Washington Post points out the challenge.

Among white college graduates, Clinton leads Trump in 31 of the 50 states, and the two are about even in six others. Trump leads among college-educated whites in just 13 states, all safe Republican states in recent elections.

Across 49 states where the poll interviewed at least 100 white college-educated women, Clinton leads Trump with this group in 38 states and by double-digit margins in 37. Averaging across all states, Clinton leads by 23 points among white women with college degrees.

A 23-point margin with college-educated white women is massive. Conway certainly has her work cut out for her. To counter her efforts, it is important to remind these women of the candidate she’s trying to sell to them.

My thoughts immediately went to what I think is the most inflammatory thing Trump has said about women in one of his many appearances on Howard Stern’s radio show. It is often used to demonstrate his disregard for people who served in the military. But as a woman, I find it appalling.

Donald Trump, who had five draft deferments, never had to fight in the jungles of Vietnam.

But he had a different sort of war record, as he told radio host Howard Stern years ago: He slept with many women without getting STDs. “It is my personal Vietnam,” he said. “I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” What’s more, Trump added: “This is better than Vietnam. It’s more fun.”

Said Stern: “Every vagina is a landmine. Haven’t we both said that in private?”

Trump concurred: “I think it is a potential landmine. There’s some real danger there.”

It’s hard to know what else to say about a man who thinks he’s a “great and very brave soldier” for his record of maneuvering the “potential landmine” of women’s vaginas.

But the list of offenses to women is long and sordid. If Ivanka Trump wants us to believe that all of the sudden this man actually cares about children, she’s had trouble explaining why their maternity leave policy applies only to women. The answer is pretty clear. Trump considers that to be women’s work. Here are just a few things he’s said about his own children:

“Do you actually change diapers?” host Anthony Cumia asked Donald Trump on the Opie and Anthony show in November 2005.

The then-59-year-old businessman, whose wife Melania was pregnant with his fifth child and her first, responded bluntly: “No, I don’t do that.”

“There’s a lot of women out there that demand that the husband act like the wife, and you know, there’s a lot of husbands that listen to that,” Trump added. “So you know, they go for it.”…

“I mean, I won’t do anything to take care of them. I’ll supply funds and she’ll take care of the kids. It’s not like I’m gonna be walking the kids down Central Park,” Trump said in the interview. He repeated the same sentiment to Stern two years later, saying, “Melania is a wonderful mother. She takes care of the baby and I pay all of the costs.”…

Trump added of his current wife, Melania: “She would take great care of the child without me having to do very much.”

Josh Marshall has accurately described Donald Trump’s world view as being all about dominance. Obviously that comes into play in how he sees women and the role of wives. Take a look at the language he uses to describe Ivana in his book, “The Art of the Comeback:”

“My big mistake with Ivana was taking her out of the role of wife and allowing her to run one of my casinos in Atlantic City, then the Plaza Hotel. The problem was, work was all she wanted to talk about. When I got home at night, rather than talking about the softer subjects of life, she wanted to tell me how well the Plaza was doing, or what a great day the casino had. I really appreciated all her efforts, but it was just too much. . . I will never again give a wife responsibility within my business. Ivana worked very hard, and I appreciated the effort, but I soon began to realize that I was married to a businessperson rather than a wife.”

Apparently for Trump, men are allowed to be a businessperson rather than a husband.

When a man has to endure a woman who is not supportive and complains constantly about his not being home enough or not being attentive enough, he will not be very successful unless he is able to cut the cord [ie, divorce her].”

As the Trump campaign tries to make their candidate more appealing to white college-educated women, it is important to keep in mind what Franklin Foer said about this candidate six months ago.

Donald Trump holds one core belief. It’s not limited government. He favored a state takeover of health care before he was against it. Nor is it economic populism. Despite many years of arguing the necessity of taxing the rich, he now wants to slice their rates to bits. Trump has claimed his nonlinear approach to policy is a virtue. Closing deals is what matters in the end, he says, not unbleached allegiance to conviction. But there’s one ideology that he does hold with sincerity and practices with unwavering fervor: misogyny.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.