Women aren’t just running for Congress in record numbers, they’ll cast the deciding votes for who controls Congress next year. With Trump’s penchant for alienating women, California Republican incumbents may come to regret aligning their political futures so closely to him.
Reps. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) are vulnerable Southern California Republicans who continue to embrace the Trump agenda. And that puts all three in a precarious position with women voters in November.
“In Rohrabacher’s district, 59 percent of women voters said they are leaning against him, while 60 percent in Knight’s district say they probably won’t vote for him,” reports the Ventura County Star. Voter’s views about both embattled lawmakers “are highly correlated with voter opinions about the President’s job approval,” according to Mark DiCamillo, director at the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at the University of California, Berkeley, which conducted the polls.
According to the Ventura County Star, the gender gap is “likely to be duplicated in the other five or six districts where Democrats hope to flip seats in November.” Walters, as SoCalDaily has previously covered, sits in one of the districts targeted by Democrats.
Women in these districts, and around the country, are unhappy with Trump’s performance. FiveThirtyEight notes a stable 15-point approval difference between men and women, with barely 1 in 3 women approving of Trump’s job performance.
Trump’s recent decision to defend and praise accused domestic abusers while dismissing survivors of domestic violence does not sit well with women voters, according to Real Clear Politics. Jennifer Horn, former New Hampshire Republican chairwoman, told RCP, “Every single time the president tries to excuse a man who has assaulted women, it makes it harder and harder for our candidates to run credible campaigns.”
Horn is referring to Trump’s decision to say kind words about former White House aide Rob Porter, who is accused by three women of domestic violence. One of Porter’s ex-wives shared photos of her black eye with the Daily Mail. “But Trump has had only good things to say about Porter and voiced sympathy for him,” RCP reports. “The president has refused to express support for the women involved or personally condemn domestic abuse.”
Since arriving in the White House, Trump defended accused child predator Roy Moore, who lost his bid for Senate in Alabama, and started calling former advisor Steve Bannon “Bam Bam” after accusations of domestic abuse surfaced. Trump encouraged violence at his campaign events, and stands accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct, ranging from groping to harassment and worse.
Southern California Republicans, despite Trump’s behavior towards women, continue to support him and align themselves with his agenda. Rohrabacher praised Trump’s divisive State of the Union address, and has held fundraisers at Trump International Hotel, an activity ethics watchdogs compared to “paying tribute” to Trump.
Both Knight and Walters support Trump’s legislative agenda at every step, including voting for a deeply unpopular tax bill that raises taxes on millions of Californians. Provisions in the tax bill related to health care will cause an estimated 13 million people to lose health insurance, and are helping to increase California premiums by up to 30 percent next year.
Southern California Republicans also supported the failed GOP attempt to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, legislation that called for cutting patients off from care at Planned Parenthood, a position overwhelming opposed by not just women but all Americans. In fact, Planned Parenthood Action Fund gives Knight, Rohrabacher, and Walters each a 0 percent rating.
Former Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill was fond of saying “All politics is local.” But with Trump dominating news coverage, what happens in Washington, D.C., increasingly impacts local races.
“Republicans should be worried about the effect Trump is having on California. There’s an undercurrent that what’s happening in Washington is negatively affecting California, says IGS poll director Mark DiCamillo.
With women increasingly abandoning Trump, California could oust Republican incumbents locally, and be part of a blue wave nationally, sending a signal to the country that aligning with Trump is not a smart political decision.
At the end of the day, Democrats in Washington, D.C., may have a lot to thank California women for.