Women’s Vote Watch — The Republicans

Men ruled the day in the GOP primary, but many women also got behind Donald Trump's bid to become the party's nominee.

Riva Richmond By Riva Richmond

Welcome to Women’s Vote Watch, Republican edition. What has our ongoing deep dive on the women’s vote this election season shown? That Donald J. Trump — who all but clinched the Republican nomination for president on May 3, after winning Indiana and the withdrawals of his final two rivals — owes his victory to men primarily, though he was supported by many women as well.

Throughout the Republican primary, men ruled the day in state after state, and they slowly coalesced behind the brash New York businessman. Trump’s support among women has not been as strong, which is unsurprising, given comments he has made about women widely considered insulting. Yet he still won a plurality of women voters in many states, including Indiana, making women crucial players in Trump’s triumph in this fiercely fought race.

The outsize role of men in the Republican primary is not entirely surprising. More women lean Democratic than lean Republican, making them less of a force in the GOP than they are in the Democratic Party. (See our chart on the Democratic primaries here.)

As the chart below shows, Trump won the largest share of the overall vote in most state primary contests, and, typically, the largest share of the women’s vote as well. However, he was more popular with men than with women in every state, except Wisconsin, for which gender data are available. His gender gap ballooned as wide as 16 percentage points (Alabama and Michigan). It was 12 points in Indiana.

A note about our chart: Red marks the percentage of the overall vote earned by the winner of each state. Highlighted in yellow is the percentage of the women’s vote earned by the winner of that group’s vote. Included are only those primary contests where gender data are available, courtesy of exit and entrance polling documented by CNN.

So who did Republican women prefer? Senator Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race after losing his home state of Florida, was the only candidate to consistently garner more female than male support (in every contest but one, Iowa). (However, Rubio only won the women’s vote in one state, Virginia — and Trump won the men’s vote there and the state.)

Male and female support had been fairly evenly split for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and for Iowa Governor John Kasich. But after Rubio’s departure, female voters who didn’t like Trump roughly split between the two remaining candidates. They swung to Kasich in New York and Connecticut and to Cruz in Maryland and Indiana, and split between them in Pennsylvania.

Women played a decisive role in only two states: They helped Cruz secure victories in Oklahoma and Iowa. In Oklahoma, Cruz and Trump both got about one-third of the men’s vote, but Cruz won the women’s vote with a 35 percent share, while Trump only got 24 percent. In Iowa, Cruz eked out a victory by doing better than Trump with both men and women. Cruz’s larger female support nearly won him Missouri in a very close race, but in the end was not enough to hand him the state.

In short, Trump’s trouble with Republican women was real, but not enough to block his nomination. The question now is: Will women voters will end Trump’s presidential hopes in the general election?

He cannot win without women, who make up more than half the U.S. population and have cast between 4 million and 7 million more votes than men in recent national elections, according to Presidential Gender Watch 2016, a nonpartisan project tracking gender dynamics in the 2016 election. But 75 percent of women have an unfavorable opinion of him, and only 24 percent have a favorable one, according a recent ABC/Washington Post poll. Now that’s a big gap to overcome.

[Editors note: This item was first published on Tuesday, March 15. It was updated Wednesday, March 16, following elections in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Iowa; Wednesday, April 6, after the election in Wisconsin; Wednesday, April 20, after the election in New York; Wednesday, April 27, after elections in Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania; Wednesday, March 4, after the election in Indiana; and Wednesday, March 11, after the election in West Virginia.]

trump_circle3 Ted Cruz_circle Kasich_circle1 Rubio_circle3
Alabama  43%

women’s vote/men’s vote

36% / 52%

 21%

women’s vote/men’s vote

21% / 22%

 4%

women’s vote/men’s vote

5% / 4%

19%

women’s vote/men’s vote

23% / 14%

Arkansas 33%

31% / 37%

31%

30% / 29%

 4%

4% / 4%

25%

28% / 23%

Connecticut 58%

55% / 60%

12%

11% / 12%

29%

31% / 27%

out
 Florida  46%

40% / 52%

17%

18% / 17%

 7%

7% / 7%

27%

33% / 22%

 Georgia 39%

35% / 45%

24%

24% / 22%

 6%

6% / 6%

24%

28% / 21%

 Illinois 39%

35% / 43%

30%

31% / 30%

 20%

21% / 19%

9%

10% / 6%

 Indiana 53%

47% / 59%

37%

41% / 33%

 8%

10% / 6%

9%

10% / 6%

 Iowa 24%

24% / 25%

28%

27% / 29%

 2%

2% / 2%

23%

21% / 25%

Maryland 54%

50% / 59%

19%

20% / 17%

23%

23% / 23%

out
 Massachusetts 49%

46% / 52%

10%

9% / 10%

 18%

19% / 16%

18%

20% / 16%

 Michigan 37%

29% / 45%

25%

29% / 21%

 24%

25% / 22%

9%

12% / 8%

 Mississippi 47%

46% / 51%

36%

38% / 35%

 9%

7% / 8%

5%

7% / 4%

 Missouri 41%

38% / 44%

41%

43% / 39%

 10%

9% / 11%

6%

7% / 4%

 Nevada 46%

45% / 47%

21%

20% / 23%

 4%

4% / 3%

24%

25% / 22%

New Hampshire 35%

33% / 38%

12%

11% / 12%

 16%

16% / 16%

11%

12% / 9%

New York 60%

57% / 63%

15%

15% / 14%

25%

28% / 23%

out
 North Carolina ♦ 40%

37% / 44%

37%

37% / 36%

 13%

13% / 12%

8%

10% / 6%

 Ohio 36%

33% / 39%

13%

14% / 12%

 47%

48% / 46%

3%

3% / 1%

 Oklahoma 28%

24% / 33%

34%

35% / 34%

 4%

4% / 4%

26%

28% / 24%

Pennsylvania 57%

54% / 61%

22%

23% / 20%

19%

21% / 18%

out

 

 South Carolina 33%

29% / 36%

22%

22% / 22%

 8%

9% / 7%

23%

23% / 22%

 Tennessee 39%

38% / 43%

25%

23% / 26%

 5%

6% / 5%

21%

23% / 18%

 Texas 27%

25% / 31%

44%

41% / 45%

 4%

5% /4 %

18%

21% / 15%

 Vermont 33%

31% / 34%

10%

9% / 10%

 30%

30% / 32%

19%

21% / 17%

 Virginia 35%

31% / 38%

17%

15% / 18%

 9%

9% / 10%

32%

35% / 28%

 West Virginia 77%

76% / 77%

out – 9%

8% / 10%

 out – 7%

7% / 6%

out
 Wisconsin 35%

35% / 35%

48%

48% / 48%

 14%

15% / 14 %

out

Posted: May 11, 2016

Riva RichmondWomen’s Vote Watch — The Republicans