Women for Progress

 

There has been much concern over the election about the suburban women vote. Over the course of the last two years, this demographic has waxed and waned in its support for Republicans and Trump. Many cite a growing distaste for Trump’s demeanor as the reason for their displeasure, but this appears to be more of a guess. While its true, women as a whole have increasingly grown disapproving of Trump’s job performance, the NPR/Marist poll that these interpretations are relying on hardly point to Trump’s demeanor for a growing disapproval among suburban women. This is the only poll I have found cited since Rasmussen reported the uptick from the Kavanaugh Affair.

The Suburban Woman Defined

But what is a suburban woman? Are they the women who largely populated the outer areas of cities? Areas which have grown increasingly diverse, with waning incomes and growing poverties? Or is it a very specific demographic, regardless of where they live? Danielle Kurtzleben at NPR provides a decent definition:

In political speak, the focus on “suburban women” is often a focus on highly educated, upper-middle-class, often-but-not-always-married white women. What it ends up doing is flattening other important demographic differences, even after a long period in which suburbs have grown increasingly diverse.

What this appears to be saying is that other criteria that largely shape other classes of voters do not have as great of an effect on suburban women. For instance, among blue-collar men, whether you are white or black has a significant impact on what gets your vote. For suburban women, both black and white women tend to be less swayed by their race than by the fact that they are wealthy, educated, and likely married.

The Historical “Suburban” Woman

The suburban woman isn’t necessarily a modern invention. She’s been around since 1848 and she was a key figure in the abolition movement and the underground railroad. Championing equality for all, she is epitomized by the wealthy aristocratic woman attending women’s organizations like the Women’s Aid Society, throwing vocal support, money, or pliant husbands at special causes. Of course, she went by another name then – the Progressive, seeking the progress of humanity’s equality.

Once these women managed to accrue for themselves the vote, they turned their attention towards those they perceived to be less fortunate than themselves, taking on such projects as child labor laws, minimum wage, democratic appointment of US senators (corruption), and (our favorite) prohibition (likely abused women).

Closely tied with the Methodist church, they became eponymous with the Religious Republican party and were seen as the moral conscience of the nation. In the 1980s, largely married with children and a mortgage, they may have been the primary reason for the Right’s reputation of trying to legislate morality, as they tackled movie ratings, tv programming, and book censorship. As the demographics of women changed in the late 80s and 90s with a rise in single motherhood and divorce, and a shift in the Democrat party’s priorities, women began moving away from the Republican Party and began to focus on welfare for single mothers, abortion rights, and a shunning of what is now referred to as “slut shaming”. Finding a home in the Clinton Democrat party, in the 90s to 2010s there is a slow melting away of the Republican party’s social legislating tendency with stronger libertarianism sentiments having more dominance within the party while the Democrats’ progressive wing began to grow and eventually dominate.

Exit polls show that in 1980s presidential elections, suburban voters were decidedly more Republican than Democratic. That slid in the 1990s, and today, there is a more even split. In the 2016 election, 49 percent of suburban voters voted for Donald Trump and 45 percent voted for Hillary Clinton.

The Priorities of Women

Many pixels have been blackened in an attempt to demonstrate the differences between men and women. One of the differences highlighted is the preference for emotional thinking among women. While women don’t feel emotions differently, they do process it differently:

The results showed quite clearly that men and women did not differ overall in their intensity of moment-to-moment emotional reactions to the images. But the neural circuitry recruited during emotion processing differed between the sexes. Women showed neural activity in the anterior insula cortex, which processes bodily sensations. This means that they deeply experienced emotions within their bodies. Men, on the other hand, showed neural responses in the visual cortex. While processing these images, male brains immediately activated circuitry involved in regulating shifts of attention to the world (i.e., the dorsal anterior insula cortex and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex). This allowed them to shift the emotional impact of the images away from themselves.

This leads to women prioritizing emotion over reason. This isn’t to mean that reason and emotion can not coexist, but that emotion is frequently preferred among a majority of women.

The second is that women prefer security. There are a lot of studies cited in investment and business blogs concerning the natural risk-aversion among women. Because of this, they will prefer status-quo (at times) over rapid change and a larger state than a smaller one.

How do these work together? Ms. Kurtzleben suggests this:

“Do those white affluent suburban voters say, ‘I’m going to do fine whether there’s a Democratic Congress or a Republican Congress, and I’m going to cast my vote on sort of the tone of Washington — not necessarily religious values or moral values, but civic values’?”

If that’s true, McHenry said, Republicans are in trouble, as moderates and independents turned off by Trump’s tweeting and coarse language might decide to vote for Democrats.

I don’t necessarily agree with her on the part about Trump. As I stated earlier, none of the polling these statements are relying on break the discontent with Trump down like that. We can’t know if it’s his behavior or coarse language that is causing the discontent.

But given women’s historical behavior on the political stage, women will vote for security and self-interest if they feel threatened, but revert to a compassionate position when they feel secure.

The NY Times wrote about Suburban men standing with Trump and noted this (which also explains the drop among the Blue Collar Rust Belt):

One reason for their continued support now: White college-educated men have benefited unequally in the Trump economy. While the president’s favorite barometer of success, the stock market, is up 26 percent since he took office, individual stock ownership is concentrated among people in the upper income brackets, who are far more likely to be white. The Republican tax cut also delivered higher benefits to whites than to blacks or Latinos, according to a recent study.

Considering suburban women are more likely married to suburban men (and those who aren’t likely experienced the same economic uptick), suburban women are not feeling the pressure they felt when they voted for Trump in 2016. This means other concerns can be prioritized once more, and equality and compassion for those they perceive downtrodden is a demonstrated pattern of concern.

Conclusion

In a previous thread, I claimed that women are more susceptible to internalizing white guilt, privilege, and misguided compassion. The emotional processing of women leads to internalizing emotions, as they feel the emotion throughout their entire bodies. Being highly educated, they have been exposed to white guilt and white privilege theory for longer than other demographics. Their emotional processing also makes them more susceptible to emotional appeals.

Due to their simultaneous preferences for compassion and security, any attempt to appeal to the suburban woman needs to be coupled with championing an under-dog if they are reasonably secure or offering a solution if they feel insecure.

In 2016, suburban women were flipped with immigration concerns because that issue threatened the education of their children. Trump also had a very compelling narrative concerning blue-collar workers that may have drawn in the compassionate nature of these women. Trump also played on the emotional sensibilities of all Americans with his trumped up rhetoric.

It also explains why the Kavanaugh Affair led to an increase. At that time, Kavanaugh was the under-dog, unjustly attacked, and the insecurity was concerning their own sons.

Unfortunately, as progressivism becomes increasingly untethered from Methodist Christian values where it was birthed and further entangles itself into the very Calvinistic secularism of today, it may be difficult for Republicans to maintain their hold on the Evangelical block and get back the progressive Women vote, as the two will only drift further apart unless a religious revival pulls the secular tide back or the evangelical block devolves into secularism itself.

There are 21 comments.

  1. RightAngles Member

    I’m sick and tired of these people trying to pigeonhole me. I was raised in the suburbs and have lived most of my married and divorced life there too, but I sure don’t recognize me in their little statistics. And if I hear one more Democrat say that “educated suburban women” don’t like Trump, I swear I’ll run all around the house slamming doors. I have a college degree, I speak four languages, I went to boarding school in France, and I am just as smart as any of those idiots and I love Donald Trump.

    And in the 90s if I heard one more pundit say “the soccer moms elected Bill Clinton,” I thought they’d take the vote away from us. Sometimes I actually think they should. Imagine the political campaigns if they were finally free to talk about actual issues instead of maternity leave and daycare in the damn workplace. Pfffft

    • #1
    • November 9, 2018, at 5:55 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  2. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    A very thought-provoking essay. I’ve heard other voices, in reformed evangelical circles, calling for spiritual revival, within the Church, while staying engaged in an imperfect society. You also engage a piece of what Salena Zito documented in The Great Revolt

    As I pull together my thoughts on a viable strategy, I’ll now cite your explanation:

    Due to their simultaneous preferences for compassion and security, any attempt to appeal to the suburban woman needs to be coupled with championing an under-dog if they are reasonably secure or offering a solution if they feel insecure.

    • #2
    • November 9, 2018, at 5:57 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Stina Member
    Stina Post author

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m sick and tired of these people trying to pigeonhole me. I was raised in the suburbs and have lived most of my married and divorced life there too, but I sure don’t recognize me in their little statistics. And if I hear one more Democrat say that “educated suburban women” don’t like Trump, I swear I’ll run all around the house slamming doors. I have a college degree, I speak four languages, I went to boarding school in France, and I am just as smart as any of those idiots and I love Donald Trump.

    And in the 90s if I heard one more pundit say “the soccer moms elected Bill Clinton,” I thought they’d take the vote away from us. Sometimes I actually think they should. Imagine the political campaigns if they were finally free to talk about actual issues instead of maternity leave and daycare in the damn workplace. Pfffft

    Ha ha ha!

    Of course there are the rare birds that fly free from the conventions of our peculiar grouping, but I didn’t think it necessary to include a “Not all women are like that” ;)

    As I was doing this, I really wanted to point out the dearth of women in the libertarian movement also correlates heavily with the historical proclivities of women. It is fascinating how certain things may have come full circle.

    I’m hoping I get some comments on this.

    • #3
    • November 9, 2018, at 6:00 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Percival Thatcher

    Polls as currently conducted aren’t for information gathering, they are for propaganda.

    • #4
    • November 9, 2018, at 6:03 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  5. JudithannCampbell Inactive

    I am going to jump on one of my hobby horses here, and ask: if women value security, then is kicking adult daughters out of the house really the best way to get them to vote republican? In many or most cases, if young women feel that they cannot count on their families for backup and security, they will look to the government. I am not unsympathetic to those who wonder if women should be voting at all, lol, but as long as we are voting, we should be doing everything possible to encourage young women to feel comfortable voting conservative. Kicking them out and telling them to sink or swim may not be conducive to that goal. It might be a really good way of driving them into the arms of leftism.

    Many people fear that if young people are not kicked out, they will never grow up. I have lived my entire life between Massachusetts and Alaska: most of the people I have known in both places were not kicked out. All of them grew up, and most of them are republicans. Except for several young women who were kicked out, in some cases by republican parents: they turned into raving liberals. Yes, this is anecdotal, but I really think we should be thinking about this. Many conservatives seem to think that hard core female independence is the way to go. It doesn’t seem to be working.

    • #5
    • November 9, 2018, at 6:19 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  6. Stina Member
    Stina Post author

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):
    Many conservatives seem to think that hard core female independence is the way to go. It doesn’t seem to be working.

    When I first started having kids, I was set on not co-sleeping. My aunt, in a very conversational and non-preachy way, mentioned that her children’s confidence was never an issue she had as a co-sleeper.

    My youngest is the most attached and I have been far more patient with him (virtues of being the youngest, I guess), but he is the most fiercely independent child I have. It has to be HIS way, HIS method. Don’t bother until he asks for help.

    But that’s just it – his confidence is based in the fact that if he fails and needs help, I’m right there to help him. So he’s willing to try things and mess up far more than my other two are.

    So I completely agree with you on how to make people independent. You give them the tools to succeed and you let them fly on their own terms. The only time that should be called into question is if there is a serious problem that is being enabled by it.

    • #6
    • November 9, 2018, at 6:24 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  7. JudithannCampbell Inactive

    Stina (View Comment):
    So I completely agree with you on how to make people independent. You give them the tools to succeed and you let them fly on their own terms. The only time that should be called into question is if there is a serious problem that is being enabled by it.

    There was only one time anyone in my very large extended family kicked a kid out: one of my younger cousins was using drugs, and he had younger siblings who were still at home. He wasn’t even 18 yet, but his parents kicked him out, and he was in foster care for a while. Fortunately, he got his act together in short order, and has had a very good relationship with his parents for a long time. He is now married with 2 kids, and is a great guy. So, yes, definitely, there are times when it is necessary to kick a kid out, but most of the time it isn’t necessary.

    There is also this: letting kids live at home for as long as they want may actually work in a reverse psychology kind of way. My parents are very old fashioned: I always knew that I could live with them forever if I wanted to. I left home when I turned 19, and moved to the other side of the continent :) After 5 years, I ended up back at my parents’ house-they had been begging me to return the whole time I was gone, which was both difficult and very comforting at the same time, but all in all, I am pretty sure that I was a much happier independent woman knowing that my parents would take me back any time than the young women I knew whose parents had kicked them out.

    • #7
    • November 9, 2018, at 6:37 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  8. Stad Thatcher

    Stina:

    I don’t necessarily agree with her on the part about Trump. As I stated earlier, none of the polling these statements are relying on break the discontent with Trump down like that. We can’t know if its his behavior or coarse language that is causing the discontent.

    But given women’s historical behavior on the political stage, women will vote for security and self-interest if they feel threatened, but revert to a compassionate position when they feel secure.

    I believe women will overlook a certain amount of coarseness if they know the man will fight to the death to protect them. Enough women look at Trump and see that type of man.

    Even when women are secure, I can see how they would feel threatened by those who would take away that security.

    • #8
    • November 10, 2018, at 6:14 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m sick and tired of these people trying to pigeonhole me. I was raised in the suburbs and have lived most of my married and divorced life there too, but I sure don’t recognize me in their little statistics. And if I hear one more Democrat say that “educated suburban women” don’t like Trump, I swear I’ll run all around the house slamming doors. I have a college degree, I speak four languages, I went to boarding school in France, and I am just as smart as any of those idiots and I love Donald Trump.

    And in the 90s if I heard one more pundit say “the soccer moms elected Bill Clinton,” I thought they’d take the vote away from us. Sometimes I actually think they should. Imagine the political campaigns if they were finally free to talk about actual issues instead of maternity leave and daycare in the damn workplace. Pfffft

    Yes.

    • #9
    • November 10, 2018, at 10:58 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m sick and tired of these people trying to pigeonhole me. I was raised in the suburbs and have lived most of my married and divorced life there too, but I sure don’t recognize me in their little statistics. And if I hear one more Democrat say that “educated suburban women” don’t like Trump, I swear I’ll run all around the house slamming doors. I have a college degree, I speak four languages, I went to boarding school in France, and I am just as smart as any of those idiots and I love Donald Trump.

    And in the 90s if I heard one more pundit say “the soccer moms elected Bill Clinton,” I thought they’d take the vote away from us. Sometimes I actually think they should. Imagine the political campaigns if they were finally free to talk about actual issues instead of maternity leave and daycare in the damn workplace. Pfffft

    Yes.

    This is why Salena Zito is so worth reading. Real reporters listen, digest and report, rather then hammering observations into their predetermined pigeonholes. She found “silent suburban moms” who were driven by: safety, security, pride in Americans making useful things (having meaningful work), not giving up on local communities where small businesswomen succeed or fail. And then there were the women who own guns because they intent to exercise their right to self-defense, to being their own first responder if their security is threatened.

    In the midterms, with the Court in hand for the short term, with the economy booming, it is tempting to back off a bit, easy to let other priorities rise to the top of the short term list.

    • #10
    • November 10, 2018, at 1:11 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. RightAngles Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m sick and tired of these people trying to pigeonhole me. I was raised in the suburbs and have lived most of my married and divorced life there too, but I sure don’t recognize me in their little statistics. And if I hear one more Democrat say that “educated suburban women” don’t like Trump, I swear I’ll run all around the house slamming doors. I have a college degree, I speak four languages, I went to boarding school in France, and I am just as smart as any of those idiots and I love Donald Trump.

    And in the 90s if I heard one more pundit say “the soccer moms elected Bill Clinton,” I thought they’d take the vote away from us. Sometimes I actually think they should. Imagine the political campaigns if they were finally free to talk about actual issues instead of maternity leave and daycare in the damn workplace. Pfffft

    Yes.

    This is why Salena Zito is so worth reading. Real reporters listen, digest and report, rather then hammering observations into their predetermined pigeonholes. She found “silent suburban moms” who were driven by: safety, security, pride in Americans making useful things (having meaningful work), not giving up on local communities where small businesswomen succeed or fail. And then there were the women who own guns because they intent to exercise their right to self-defense, to being their own first responder if their security is threatened.

    In the midterms, with the Court in hand for the short term, with the economy booming, it is tempting to back off a bit, easy to let other priorities rise to the top of the short term list.

    What makes me mad is that most of the time, these polls and the statements by pundits about “educated people” not liking Trump are designed, not to inform, but to shame people into agreeing with them. They actually believe I’m so stupid that I’ll suddenly go “Oh, well then in THAT case I won’t vote for Trump because then I’ll look real educated like you!” Please. All it does is make people not TELL you they’re voting for Trump, and that is how you got the shock of your lives in November 2016. Idiots.

    • #11
    • November 10, 2018, at 1:37 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  12. RightAngles Member

    The only reason Trump won was the Democrats were so overconfident they didn’t bother to cheat by vote tampering.

    • #12
    • November 10, 2018, at 1:46 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Judge Mental Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    The only reason Trump won was the Democrats were so overconfident they didn’t bother to cheat by vote tampering.

    They tried in Michigan, but quickly stopped when the recount started showing massive irregularities in blue Detroit.

    • #13
    • November 10, 2018, at 1:49 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    This is why Salena Zito is so worth reading. Real reporters listen, digest and report, rather then hammering observations into their predetermined pigeonholes.

    I agree. She’s a real reporter on the ground listening to people.

    • #14
    • November 10, 2018, at 3:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. RightAngles Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    The only reason Trump won was the Democrats were so overconfident they didn’t bother to cheat by vote tampering.

    They tried in Michigan, but quickly stopped when the recount started showing massive irregularities in blue Detroit.

    It’s just unbelievable. They actually do this every TIME. It’s how Mayor Daley delivered Illinois to JFK. And I believe it’s how Obama “won” in 2012. Ain’t no WAY he won. You could feel it in the air. Why isn’t someone looking into it?

    • #15
    • November 10, 2018, at 3:57 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    The only reason Trump won was the Democrats were so overconfident they didn’t bother to cheat by vote tampering.

    They tried in Michigan, but quickly stopped when the recount started showing massive irregularities in blue Detroit.

    It’s just unbelievable. They actually do this every TIME. It’s how Mayor Daley delivered Illinois to JFK. And I believe it’s how Obama “won” in 2012. Ain’t no WAY he won. You could feel it in the air. Why isn’t someone looking into it?

    A friend had an uncle who ended up doing jail time for the Cook County heist. They were using private trucks to move ballots, adding as needed. He told me this last evening as we looked at the photographs from Broward County.

    • #16
    • November 10, 2018, at 6:10 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    Stina, I appreciate this thorough piece, even though I’m not Methodist. :-) Also, thanks for the term, ‘Calvinist secularism’ – an apt descriptor…May I borrow it?

    • #17
    • November 11, 2018, at 5:22 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Stina Member
    Stina Post author

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Stina, I appreciate this thorough piece, even though I’m not Methodist. :-) Also, thanks for the term, ‘Calvinist secularism’ – an apt descriptor…May I borrow it?

    Go for it! I can’t remember where I stumbled on it, but it was so fitting, especially since the Methodist church was built on calvinism and was heavily entwined with the progressive movement at it’s inception.

    • #18
    • November 12, 2018, at 8:14 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    Stina (View Comment):

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Stina, I appreciate this thorough piece, even though I’m not Methodist. :-) Also, thanks for the term, ‘Calvinist secularism’ – an apt descriptor…May I borrow it?

    Go for it! I can’t remember where I stumbled on it, but it was so fitting, especially since the Methodist church was built on calvinism and was heavily entwined with the progressive movement at it’s inception.

    Thanks! (I thought of this, as I read your post)

    • #19
    • November 12, 2018, at 8:22 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. RightAngles Member

    As I’ve commented before, my mom’s family has been Methodists since the beginning of it, but boy howdy they wouldn’t recognize the United Methodist Church now. When we lived in Michigan (as I’ve also told before), the Sunday Lifestyle section of our paper had a feature on them wherein they proudly said they tell women where to go for abortions. And one weekend in the 90s, a group of them went up to the Upper Peninsula for the weekend where they ran around in the woods topless worshiping “Christa.”

    • #20
    • November 12, 2018, at 10:56 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    As I’ve commented before, my mom’s family has been Methodists since the beginning of it, but boy howdy they wouldn’t recognize the United Methodist Church now. When we lived in Michigan (as I’ve also told before), the Sunday Lifestyle section of our paper had a feature on them wherein they proudly said they tell women where to go for abortions. And one weekend in the 90s, a group of them went up to the Upper Peninsula for the weekend where they ran around in the woods topless worshiping “Christa.”

    Oh. MY. GOSHNESS.

    • #21
    • November 12, 2018, at 10:58 AM PDT
    • 4 likes