Trump’s combative, argumentative and direct demeanor toward his political opponents has been a positive for him among certain men disgusted with changes in social norms — especially working-class White men, one of his most loyal voting blocs.
Shaun Bickley, a 54-year-old barge owner who organized a Trump 2020 boat parade in Sandusky, Ohio, this month, told The Post’s Jenna Johnson that he gets frustrated when people suggest that White men enjoy privileges and advantages that other people do not.
“There’s 8 billion of us on the planet,” he said. “There’s only 780 million White people … So I’m personally really tired of hearing that I’m a majority, that I’m a superpower White privilege kid.”
“My mom and dad had nothing,” Bickley added. “I have been working my whole life.”
Trump’s debate performance Tuesday night was a 90-minute display of many of the ideas and actions that appeal to this demographic.
On sports: “By the way, I brought back Big Ten football.”
On face masks: “I wear a mask when needed … I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
On intelligence: “Hey, Joe, you’re the liar. You graduated last in your class and not first in your class.”
The sum total of Trump’s debate approach might be off-putting even for some of his supporters — not all who are backing the president are a part of his base. But let’s say for the sake of argument that Trump’s debate style was tailor-made for his supporters. That brings us to perhaps the biggest flaw in this approach — most voters are outside of Trump’s base, especially one of the country’s most influential voting blocs: women. In fact, women — a demo that Trump has struggled with since the 2016 campaign — are projected to make up the majority of voters this fall. And there was not much in his performance during the first presidential debate that seems likely to appeal to them.
Trump has been steadily unpopular with women — not just because of his leadership style, but because many of his policy positions (including making abortion more difficult, criticism of the Affordable Care Act, weakening Title IX and efforts to protect women from sexual harassment) are largely unpopular with women voters. And his history of alleged sexual misconduct with dozens of women along with frequent allegations of sexist language in how he engages his women critics haven’t helped change that.
Polls have consistently shown throughout the election that women are largely voting against Trump. But the most recent Post/ABC poll shows just how significant that gap is. The Post previously reported that women are the key difference-makers in the current race.
“Trump has a lead of 55 percent to 42 percent among male likely voters, but Biden has an even larger 65 percent to 34 percent advantage among female likely voters. Trump’s lead among men is about the same as his margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016, but Biden’s lead among women is more than twice as large as Clinton’s was then.”
Of course, there are millions of women who support President Trump, and millions of men who oppose him, and all of this could be an oversimplified way to tease out what appeals to whom. But there was nothing about Tuesday’s performance that suggested that this could change anytime soon. And while Trump’s debate coach has been critical of his performance, it’s not clear whether the president is going to make any changes in how he performs in these events, which candidates have historically looked to to win over voters.