Why women and minorities matter in US election

Why women and minorities matter in US election
Comment: Donald Trump has insulted a myriad of people, but presidential candidates can no longer afford to marginalise the interests of women and minorities, writes Dr. Tamara Kharroub
5 min read
28 Oct, 2016
The votes of college-educated white women and racial minorities can swing the election results [Getty]

Less than two weeks from the US presidential Election Day on November 8, the televised debates are over, polling is ongoing, campaigning and ads are in full swing, and Trump continues to wage his war against groups, institutions, and anyone who disagrees with him.

Among the many of his adversaries is the Washington establishment, the media (as being biased against him), the GOP leadership, the election process (as being rigged - also against him), minorities and women.

Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has insulted a rainbow of people. He made sexist comments about women, called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, campaigned to ban Muslims from entering the US and to survey Muslim Americans, made fun of people with disabilities, equated African Americans with poverty and crime, and even hesitated to condemn a former KKK leader.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has made several derogatory remarks about women. The long list starts well before he decided to run for president, and includes objectifying women and making comments about their looks and weight, proposing to punish women for abortions, intimating that women should leave the work place if sexually harassed and suggesting that sexual assault in the military is due to cohabitation.

He even called women dogs, pigs, and bimbos and said it was disgusting when women go to the bathroom or pump breast milk, and made jokes about dating his own daughter. Trump also went after the mother of fallen Iraq war veteran, Ghazala Khan, making public statements that she was not allowed to speak because she is Muslim.

Population projections estimate that by 2020 the white population will decline to 60 percent 

Most recently, and most outrageously, Trump bragged about groping women and admitted to sexual assault, in a leaked audio recording from 2005 in conversation with TV host Billy Bush. Since then, more than a dozen women have come forward accusing Trump of sexually assaulting them, to which his responses have been "look at her" and "believe me she won't be my first choice," in addition to intimidating the women and calling them liars.  

However, despite the misogyny and xenophobia, Trump won the Republican Party primary and is now one of two major candidates running for - arguably - the most important position in the world.

Billy Bush was fired from his position at NBC for advocating sexual assault, but Trump persisted in the race for the presidency even after admitting to sexual assault.

However, in the upcoming general election women and minorities will have the chance to respond. At this point, polls show Clinton leading among women by 33 points at 61 percent and among minorities by 55 points, while Trump leads by 43 points among men without college education and by seven among white college-educated men. For white non college-educated women, Trump and Clinton are tied garnering 40 percent of their support each.

In addition to the obvious gender gap in the polls, conservative Christian women, who traditionally vote Republican, intend to vote Democrat and report to being harassed in their communities and online, and having their faith questioned when professing their opposition to Trump.

Despite the misogyny and xenophobia, Trump won the Republican Party primary

This might explain the voting preferences of a segment of the female population, such as married conservative Republican white women, who are closet Clinton voters. White college-educated women in particular have been voting increasingly more Democrat, with a 39 percent margin.  

With regards to minorities, despite the passing of state laws that aim to restrict voting among racial minority populations, minorities in the Untied States played a significant role in the election of President Obama.

The minority vote was shown to have given Obama an advantage of 21.2 million in 2008 and 23.5 million in 2012, especially in swing states.

Moreover, population projections estimate that by 2020 the white population will decline to 60 percent and by 2050 the United States will have a minority-majority electorate. Such rapid demographic change will have a large impact on the elections and subsequently on policy-making.

In this year's contentious election and close race, women and minorities may prove essential for winning the presidency. The combined vote of college-educated white women and racial minorities could swing the election results.

Being the narcissistic businessman that he is, Donald Trump is using the media attention for new business ventures

Although final results can only be known after Election Day, many experts are expecting a comfortable win for Hillary Clinton. Based on polling data and statistical analyses, The New York Times predicts that Hillary Clinton has a 92 percent chance of winning.

While many are concerned about the impact of "Trumpism" on the GOP and some speculate a potential founding of a third mainstream political party in the US, Trump appears to have already moved on.

Being the narcissistic businessman that he is, Donald Trump is using the media attention for new business ventures. The online live cast of Trump TV has started. On Monday, Donald Trump cut the ribbon for his new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue only blocks from the White House in Washington DC.

While Trump may have normalised sexism and xenophobia among vulnerable populations, the demographics can ensure that presidential candidates can no longer ignore and marginalise the interests of women and minority voters.

Dr. Tamara Kharroub is a Middle East Analyst at the Arab Center, Washington DC.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.