Donald Trump pleaded with female suburban voters to “like me” on Tuesday night as he held his second election rally since contracting and recovering from Covid-19.
“Suburban women, they should like me more than anybody here tonight because I ended deregulation that destroyed your neighbourhood. I ended the regulation that brought crime to the suburbs,” Mr Trump said during his rally in Pennsylvania, referring to an Obama-era anti-segregation rule that his administration repealed.
The rules Mr Trump is referring to required local governments to demonstrate progress against housing discrimination in exchange for grants.
On 23 July this year, the Trump administration said it would only require applicants for a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant to self-certify that they are doing something - rather than nothing - to promote housing fairness.
“So can I ask you to do me a favour? Suburban women, will you please like me? I saved your damn neighbourhood,” the president said.
Female voters are expected to play a crucial role in next month’s election, not least because more women (58.1 per cent) voted than men (53.8 per cent) in 2016, as had been the case since 1984.
“This was central to Donald Trump’s victory as the major sub-electorate of white women voted 52-43 for him over Hillary Clinton — who otherwise won Black women (94-4) and Latino women (69-25)”, said a report by the Observer Research Foundation think tank.
The support for Mr Trump amongst women, however, declined during the first two years of his administration. A study by Pew Research Centre revealed a 13 percentage-point gender gap in his average approval rating, with men more likely to say they support him than women.
Mr Trump said he’d heard that suburban women don’t like the way he talks, but that he doesn’t have time to be “nice”. “You know, I can do it, but I got to go quickly. We don’t have time,” Mr Trump said. “They want me to be politically correct.”
In the rally, Trump predicted that more suburban women will vote for him than expected, as happened in 2016 when analysts had predicted otherwise.
“I said, ‘Why? Am I so bad?’ ” he said. “Then I got 52 per cent. They said, ‘What the hell happened with the women?’ ”
A WashingtonPost-ABC poll released in September showed that the women favoured Joe Biden over Mr Trump by 31 points. According to the same poll, Mr Trump is leading Mr Biden by 13 points among male likely voters.
In an article published by the London School of Economics, Professors Harold Clarke, Marianne Stewart, Paul Whiteley and Guy D Whitten wrote that while women have been more supportive of the Democrats than Republicans, the gender gap when it comes to President Trump is exceptionally large. This gap, they argued, can be owed to a combination of poor economic factors, women’s party identification, and many women’s personal dislike for Mr Trump.
They wrote that since the late 1970s, women have been more pessimistic than men about the national economic situation and their own personal financial situation and that, during Mr Trump’s first term, the difference in consumer confidence between men and women reached a new high, averaging nearly 15 points.
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