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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > February 2017 > Why did women vote for him?

Why did women vote for him?

Despite his boorish chauvinism, Trump won with the backing of the majority of white female voters. An unthinkable outcome? Not if you’ve followed the Tea Party

Melissa Deckman is Chair of the Political Science Department at Washington College. Her latest book, “Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right” is published by NYU Press

America was supposed to elect its first female president in 2016. National polls, media elites and political scientists all pointed to victory for Hillary Clinton. Women’s rights organisations were certain that US voters would finally embrace female national leadership and give an inspiring example to America’s daughters. It was hoped that she would guarantee the continuation of practical advances on childcare to abortion rights, on which candidate Clinton had taken an emphatic stand.

To most feminists it was unimaginable that America and especially American women would embrace Donald Trump, the man who had shown the sort of contempt for the female half of the electorate which even bigots with political ambitions would ordinarily reserve for small minorities. America had—lest we forget—heard him cuss one woman journalist for “bleeding out of her whatever” blame Bill Clinton’s infidelities on Hillary’s inability to “satisfy” him, and bragged about his own ability to grab women’s private parts. In the end, women voters did vote for Clinton in higher numbers than Trump, but not by the margin required. The bitter truth for those women’s rights groups is that women were pivotal to Trump’s success: exit polls revealed, among white women, that Trump secured an outright majority of 53 per cent. How could this happen? What sort of women made it possible? And what sort of role will they play in the incoming administration, and indeed in Trump’s America?

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In Prospect’s February issue: Tom Clark and Luke Harding examine the attacks facing democracy. Clark reviews two books on democracy and suggests a new intellectual assault may be on the horizon. Harding looks at Russia’s attempts to derail the democratic process by focussing on its technical frailty. Melissa Deckman asks why women voted for Trump, while Duncan Bell charts the story of the Anglosphere and suggests Brexiteers are indulging in an old fantasy. Also in this issue: Matthew Harries asks if it’s time to ban the nuclear bomb, Adam Mars-Jones looks at the way we perceive aliens in films and Elizabeth Pisani explores the role of activists in changing the perception of Aids and its pushing for treatment.