Why you should care
It’s almost as if the ballots read: “We’re just not that into you, Donald Trump.”
Susan Del Percio
Susan Del Percio is a New York–based Republican strategist.
As we look at Tuesday’s special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, and the primaries in Kansas and Michigan, two things become clear: Women are voting, and women are winning.
Republicans have held the Ohio-12 seat since 1982, and President Trump won it by 11 points in 2016, but a Democrat came within 1 percent of winning it in this week’s special election. While it is too early to say for certain, we are learning that traditionally Republican suburban women are coming out in force against Donald Trump. And while the president’s name was not on the ballot, his policies and tenure certainly were.
Make no mistake; this didn’t happen overnight — the commander in chief has been pushing away women since the beginning of his administration. Way back on Jan. 21, 2017, while the new occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. obsessed over reports on the size of his inauguration crowds, the Women’s March on Washington was underway in full force. But Trump ignored — and probably simply dismissed — the women protesting just outside his windows.
There was so much that we couldn’t have predicted from Trump’s first year as president, ranging from the travel ban and firing of FBI Director James Comey to the Mueller investigation and Charlottesville. Even more surprising, the president did nothing to unite the country or expand his base. On the contrary, he seems to have done everything possible to divide the nation and alienate.
Women of both parties are speaking out at the voting booth.
No group reflects this more than women. While it is true that midterm elections are often a way for voters of a party out of power to rally against the party holding the White House, something more is happening on the ground: Women of both parties are speaking out at the voting booth.
The first red flag should have been the Doug Jones–Roy Moore special election in Alabama on Dec. 12, 2017. Alabama is as red a state as any, and Trump won it with 62 percent of the vote. But the president couldn’t sway its primary voters to go with the sitting senator, Luther Strange, and Moore became the Republican nominee. It should have been easy for the president to distance himself from Moore, an accused child molester, but he didn’t. Trump even forced the Republican National Committee, which had distanced itself from Moore and stopped funding his campaign, to reverse course and support him.
Thankfully, Black women came out for Jones, and suburban Republican women came out against Moore. But that was more than just a Senate race; it was the unraveling of moderate and independent women’s support for the Republican Party. How could women support a president or party that supported an accused child molester, and how could the Republican Party think women wouldn’t start to move further and further away?
“It’s the economy, stupid,” I hear you whisper. Indeed, economic growth was supposed to be the silver bullet that would make everything all right again. As it turns out, passing tax cuts that largely help only America’s wealthiest and corporations didn’t work. Women didn’t buy it and became determined to create change, which they’re doing by running for office in record numbers at the city, state and federal level.
As of August 7, women candidates are major party nominees for governor in 11 states, breaking the 1994 record of 10, and that number could increase as primaries continue. Currently, there are 182 women running for the House of Representatives on major party lines — another record.
While I applaud all the women running this year, I was hoping to see more Republican women seeking elective office. As I wrote in May, we simply cannot let the Trump presidency, which has absolutely no loyalty to the Republican Party, destroy it. Republicans need to vote for the best person running — and hopefully many of those candidates will be Republican — but when it comes to Trump-allied politicians who are on the verge of hurting the country, make your voice known.
And to all Republican women thinking about running, do it. After all, 2020 isn’t that far away.