Election 2016

The Trump Effect: White Men Stand Alone?

A new poll shows white women souring on the GOP.


Erin Scott/Polaris/Newscom

White women are souring on the Republican Party, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, leaving white men alone as a pro-GOP voting block.

An early measure of voter mood going into the midterm elections, the poll asked whether people were more likely to vote for Democratic or Republican congressional candidates this November.

Democrats were the preferred choice overall, earning a 12-point lead over Republicans among registered voters and a 14-point lead among respondents who said they would definitely vote this fall. The "Democrats' 12 percentage-point advantage on this 'generic ballot' question is the largest in Post-ABC polling since 2006," notes Post pollster Scott Clement.

Republican candidates did come out on top among male respondents: 51 of all the men surveyed and 48 percent of male registered voters said they would vote GOP in the midterms. The GOP was also the preferred choice among white voters overall, with 48 percent saying they favored Republican candidates and 43 percent backing Democrats.

Meanwhile, just 19 percent of nonwhite voters told pollsters they would vote Republican. Sixty-nine percent said they'd vote Democrat.

That much looks a lot like what we saw in the 2016 election, when voters of color overwhelmingly backed Hillary Clinton and when Trump was tops with white voters. According to exit polls, about 58 percent of (non-Hispanic) white voters supported Trump, while 66 percent of Hispanic voters and 88 percent of black voters chose Clinton; among black female voters, Clinton's support jumped to 93 percent.

Men were also more likely to be Trump voters (53 percent to 41 percent) in 2016, while women were more likely to support Clinton (54 percent to 42 percent). But nonwhite men voted more like their nonwhite female counterparts than like white men, and white women voted more like white men than like their female counterparts of color.

According to exit polls, some 53 percent of white women who voted in the 2016 presidential election chose Trump, giving him a nine-point lead over Clinton with this cohort. White women were also more likely to choose Republican candidates in the 2014 midterm elections, by 14 points.

This latest survey marks a change. White female voters now poll more like women (and men) of color than like white men.

Among registered voters, the poll showed white women preferring Democrats by a 12-point lead. Some 50 percent said they would vote Democrat in the 2018 midterms, with only 38 percent preferring GOP candidates.

Non-white female voters preferred Democrats by a 53-point margin.

Overall, 64 percent of all women polled preferred Democrats (up from 55 percent in fall 2017), with 29 percent preferring Republicans. The score was 57–31 in Democrats' favor when we consider only women who are registered voters. And two-thirds of this group said they "strongly disapprove" of Trump's presidential performance so far.

The only group in the survey to overwhelmingly support the GOP was white men. Among the registered white, male voters surveyed, 58 percent said they would vote Republican in the 2018 midterm elections and only 34 percent said they would vote Democrat.

It seems the "Trump effect" on electoral politics so far has been to push white women away from the Republican Party and further isolate white men's voting preferences.

The poll was conducted January 15–18, 2018, and it included 1,005 American adults, 846 of which were registered voters. Overall, 31 percent identified as Democrat, 23 percent as Republican, and 40 percent as independent. Independents were more likely to support Democratic candidates (50 percent) than Republicans (34 percent).