To all of the nation’s great divides this election year — liberal-conservative, Republican-Democrat, rich-poor, young-old, urban-rural, black-white — we can add the oldest and most important division of all.
The gender gap is huge in 2018 — a cable TV talking head aptly called it a “gender canyon.” A recent Pew poll showed women prefer Democratic congressional candidates by an astonishing 23 points. Male voters show a three-point preference for Republicans.
No candidate can ignore this gap, but it’s especially troublesome for candidates running against women. As it happens, that’s precisely the predicament for Republicans in three big local races: Kris Kobach, who faces Laura Kelly for Kansas governor; Kevin Yoder, who is running against Sharice Davids for Congress; and Josh Hawley, who is challenging Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat.
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If there were no gender gap, all three Republicans would win easily. Instead, they’re all locked in razor-thin elections.
For that, they can blame President Donald Trump.
The recent drama over the Christine Blasey Ford-Brett Kavanaugh hearing can help us understand this. She claims Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school; he denies it.
While the facts remain in fierce dispute, the politics are clear: Women believe her. That means, absent new information or a withdrawal, that the gender gap is likely to grow.
Some candidates are trying to bluff their way out of this threat by claiming “respect” for Ford, while simultaneously saying she’s lying.
“I don’t doubt her sincerity for a moment,” Hawley said Monday. “But it’s a matter of evidence. And it just isn’t there.”
How can Ford be a “sincere” liar? No one knows, and Hawley hopes no one will ask.
Trump does this all the time. He distorts logic, then claims he didn’t say what he clearly meant to communicate.
Women have not been fooled, which is why there’s a gender gap.
Just this week, Trump called on a woman reporter at a White House press conference. “I know you’re not thinking,” he told her. “You never do.” It was a sexist, gratuitous insult, unthinkable for any president except Trump.
But Trump and his supporters want Americans to ignore it, just as they want voters to forget about the Access Hollywood tape, his misleading and misogynist tweets, payoffs to porn stars, casual insults, outrageous lies. They say voters should separate his accomplishments from his actions.
Women aren’t buying it. Good behavior in one endeavor doesn’t justify bad behavior in another, they know, and lying is never acceptable. The personal and political are inseparable.
Mom: You broke the cookie jar. Child: But I got an “A” on my math test. Mom: OK. You still broke the cookie jar.
Kris Kobach, Kevin Yoder and Josh Hawley support Donald Trump without reservation. Trump has campaigned for all three and will return to Kansas Saturday for more of the same.
If the three Republicans lose their races, they’ll regret their embrace of the president.