Midterm Elections: Female Voters Boost Democrats, As Backlash To Trump Persists A big gender gap threatens the GOP in November, as the energy of the women's marches the day after Donald Trump took office has been sustained by Democratic women invested in the midterms.

The Women's Wave: Backlash To Trump Persists, Reshaping Politics In 2018

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/650447848/651568379" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


The midterm elections are remarkable in part because a record number of women are running for office. But when it comes to voting, women have outnumbered men in every national election for more than half a century. So you could say every year is the, quote, unquote, "year of the woman." As NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben reports, the difference in 2018 is how female voters are galvanized against the party in power.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: On Donald Trump's first full day in office, millions of women worldwide were out in protest.


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Nasty, nasty girls - we're here to march. Whoo, whoo, whoo.

KURTZLEBEN: Amy Chomsky, an ophthalmologist from Nashville, was at the Women's March in Washington, D.C.


AMY CHOMSKY: We're not just crazy protesters. Again, it's a shame that we have to still be fighting for women's rights or saying that we have a right to decide on our own reproductive health, we have a right to equal pay. It's a shame that we're still doing this.

KURTZLEBEN: One big question then was whether the energy behind the marches could last. For Chomsky, it did. Here's what she said last month.

CHOMSKY: I really in the past was kind of like, the right person will win, I'm sure. I rarely voted in either local or midterm and things like that. Now I try to vote on all of those.

KURTZLEBEN: She also says that for the first time, she has yard signs and is making political donations.

CELINDA LAKE: What you're seeing is just this harmonic convergence where women are running, women are volunteering in campaigns, women are making record numbers of contributions.

KURTZLEBEN: That's Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. She says Donald Trump played a big part in energizing Democratic women to run and to organize. Many Democratic women were furious that Trump got elected over Hillary Clinton despite multiple allegations of sexual assault against him. That issue has returned now with the allegations of assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And since 2016, women have swung far towards the Democrats.

CHRISTINE MATTHEWS: Republicans heading into the midterm need to be concerned about the gender gap.

KURTZLEBEN: That's Republican pollster Christine Matthews. A recent NPR-Marist poll found a big gap when you ask which party's candidate a voter would prefer in Congress. Men preferred a Republican by six points. Women preferred a Democrat by 28 points. And that big gap may be here to stay, Matthews says.

MATTHEWS: Whereas the Republican Party used to primarily be comprised of college-educated voters, college-educated voters - particularly college-educated women - have been becoming more Democratic. What happened is the 2016 election sped that up.

KURTZLEBEN: Among those most energized are nonwhite women, says Aimee Allison, president of Democracy in Color.

AIMEE ALLISON: We have the possibility of women of color for the first time getting recognition for Democratic Party successes out of the midterms.

KURTZLEBEN: Black women propelled Alabama Democrat Doug Jones to a Senate seat last year. In light of that, Allison believes that some Democrats are now rethinking their campaign strategies.

ALLISON: I don't know how many losses political consultants need to have in order to say, we're going to stop chasing Trump voters. The new coalition doesn't center on trying to attract moderate white voters.

KURTZLEBEN: Meanwhile, many Republican women say they are being overlooked, and they have largely remained loyal to the president. Cindy Moser, a retired teacher from North Carolina, attended Trump's inauguration.

CINDY MOSER: I was on his train from Day 1. One by one, all my family and friends hopped on.

KURTZLEBEN: And Moser told me recently that she's still on that train.

MOSER: I absolutely adore him.

KURTZLEBEN: Still, 62 percent of women voters disapprove of President Trump, NPR and Marist found, and 52 percent strongly disapprove. For her part, Amy Chomsky is hoping that means they'll vote.

CHOMSKY: I think this is a pivotal time. The more people who can get out and vote in these midterms is going to make a difference.

KURTZLEBEN: And that's coming from a woman who doesn't remember voting in a midterm before. Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR News, Washington.


Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.