Los Angeles | Despite sex assault allegations hounding him, fat-shaming a former beauty queen and his controversial abortion stand, a large number of women voters helped put Donald Trump in the White House.
Though his rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, clinched 54 per cent of the female vote, Trump was backed by 42 per cent of women voters, which contributed to his stunning victory, according to CNN exit polls.
Some 53 per cent of white women voters supported the Republican candidate, CNN said, the majority of them (62 per cent) non-college educated.
The results upended predictions that sexist and degrading comments Trump made against women would sway female voters – who accounted for about 52 per cent of the electorate Tuesday – in favour of a candidate that could have broken the glass ceiling.
Experts said the outcome is not surprising, and reflects an election in which issues about the economy, jobs and immigration were much higher on all voters’ priority list than gender issues.
“At the heart of it is what was driving all voters,” said Diane Heith, professor and chair of the Department of Government and Politics at St John’s University in New York.
Heith said although the leaked Access Hollywood tape in which Trump boasted about groping women, and his disparaging comments about a former Miss Universe had made many women cringe, it was not enough to turn them against the candidate.
“There was no sisterhood created,” Heith said. “The issue of how he treated women did not overshadow the attitudes these individuals already had – being disaffected and how they had been treated by the establishment elite of which Hillary was absolutely part of.”
Still, the real estate magnate’s shock win has left many women struggling to cope with the election of a president whose misogynistic behaviour was disregarded at the polls.
“More than half of white women voted for the man who bragged about committing sexual assault on tape, who said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v Wade who has spent 30-plus years in the public eye reducing women to their sexual attributes,” wrote LV Anderson in an article in the online current affairs magazine Slate.
“White women sold out their fellow women, their country, and themselves last night,” added the author. “Most white women don’t want to be part of an intersectional feminist sisterhood. Most white women just want to be one of the guys.
And we will all suffer for it.”
One issue of particular concern for women – both Democrats and Republicans – will be how Trump deals with abortion rights while in the White House.
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