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How Did The Media Miss Suburban Women Who Hate Hillary Clinton?


For months leading up to Election Day, I heard Beltway pundits—mostly men—predict how white, educated suburban women would vote on November 8. Not shockingly, they assumed we would vote for Hillary Clinton by a wide margin, fueled by our collective outrage at Donald Trump’s crassness and the chance to elect the first woman president. Article after article profiled suburban women, creating a sense we would help propel Clinton into the White House.

As someone who not only occupies this demographic, but whose social circle in suburban Chicago also includes this coveted electoral prize, I was often puzzled, if not outraged, at being told how we would vote. Almost every suburban mom I knew in my relatively diverse suburb planned to vote for Trump. Was I living in some alternative suburban universe? Did these smug commentators know something I did not?

Turns out this was just another example of how the media got it wrong this election. While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how white, educated suburban women voted, early data suggests the majority did not vote for Clinton. Trump won white women by 53 percent, while Clinton improved her share of that vote by only one percentage point over Obama in 2012. Clinton won white educated women by 51 to 46 percent, a slimmer margin than predicted, but that could include a big percentage of city-dwellers.

Hillary Clinton Is an Insult to Women

So with everything working against Trump, why did we vote for him and not for Hillary? Few of us supported Trump in the primary; Rubio and Kasich were the most popular choices among my friends. Most of us never thought he would actually win the nomination.

After the convention, we all had our WTF moments. His comments about the Khan family and the Access Hollywood video were the bitterest pills to swallow. The sexual harassment accusations obviously raised red flags, although many seemed less credible as Election Day neared. My friends had varying reasons why they decided to vote for Trump; high on the list were taxes, Obamacare, and terrorism. The level of intensity for Trump also varied, from outspoken supporters to the so-called “shy” Trump voter to a few who were angry they felt they had no other choice.

Aside from the policy differences and mixed enthusiasm, one factor brought us together: Hillary Clinton. It all boiled down to a common refrain I heard from women and men, which was, “I can’t vote for her.” The disdain, even disgust, for her was palpable. Corrupt, dishonest, phony were the most common descriptors. Her complicity in the Benghazi terrorist attack and subsequent cover-up were high on the list of reasons my friends wouldn’t vote for her, along with her private email server and questions about the Clinton Foundation.

They were afraid her policies would mean higher taxes on their families and more regulations on their small businesses. Frankly, no one really talked about her as a role model for women. In fact, some shared the opposite view, believing she had largely risen in politics because of her husband. Given what a poor candidate she was, it’s not hard to make that case.

But mostly, it was a matter of Clinton fatigue, being weary of the same set of folks in power since 1992 who represent everything we distrust about the ruling elite, including government, the media, and even Hollywood celebrities (for me personally, the repudiation of the latter two were the sweetest of all the victory spoils).

Making Fun of Us Made Us More Certain

Yes, we had the “what do we tell our children” conversations (a very angry celebrity chef I tussle with occasionally tweeted me the night after the election, demanding to know what I said to my two daughters about Trump). During a get-together at my home on Halloween evening with several of these moms, we got into a rather heated discussion about sexual harassment and what we said to our daughters about some of Trump’s comments and accusations against him. We had different approaches about what we said to them (my approach is always a bit more raw than that of some of my more civilized friends). But it was a conversation we all had with our girls.

The weeks leading up to Election Day made our vote easier. The media pile-on and growing viciousness toward Trump supporters only emboldened us. The real possibility of upending the political establishment—both Democrat and Republican—in Washington DC was compelling. And now that we’re being called racist, traitorous homophobes—even Nazis—by the bitter, vanquished elite, we feel even better about our choice.

Our vote for Trump didn’t come without serious consideration, moments of doubt, even anxiety about what we were getting ourselves into. But our vote wasn’t borne of ignorance, bigotry, or blind loyalty to our sex. Now we all have our fingers crossed for a successful Trump presidency for our country and, yes, for the daughters we are raising.