According to Hillary Clinton, many white women voted against her because the men in their lives told them to.
During a discussion at the India Today Conclave on Saturday, Clinton was asked why she thought most white women voted for Trump, even after the “Access Hollywood” tape and claims of sexual misconduct weeks before the election.
“[Democrats] do not do well with white men, and we don’t do well with married, white women. And part of that is an identification with the Republican Party, and a sort of ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should,” she said.
Clinton also said she was winning with white women — but lost momentum after then-FBI Director James B. Comey released a letter saying the agency was looking into additional emails from Clinton’s private server.
The former Democratic candidate is correct that white women usually choose Republicans in presidential elections; they’ve done so since 2004. And most white women without college degrees have backed the Republican in every presidential election since 2000.
And, like it or not, the second part of her statement may not be wrong.
Clinton has made comments like these before and has been criticized for them because they appear to place the blame for her loss on white women’s inability to think independently about their vote. But there are studies that show that how white women vote, especially those who are married, is highly influenced by the politics of their husbands.
Oregon State University professor Kelsy Kretschmer co-wrote a study examining women’s voting patterns. “We know white men are more conservative, so when you’re married to a white man you get a lot more pressure to vote consistent with that ideology,” she told the Guardian last year.
This and other studies also show that other factors influence why white women vote for conservative politicians. White women are much more likely to be married than women of other demographic groups. And married women are more likely to support traditional values, both culturally and economically.
A study from the Institute for Social and Economic Research reported that married men tend to favor Republican presidential nominees for economic reasons, and their wives in general join them in support of their husband’s economic interests.
Obvious pushback to Clinton’s comments would be that she and other Democratic candidates failed to present a platform that helps assuage white women’s cultural and economic anxieties.
Ultimately, Clinton won the overall female vote, something Trump falsely claimed he won at a Pennsylvania rally on Saturday. But 52 percent of white women voted for him, according to exit polls.
But if the GOP wants to win nonwhite female voters, perhaps it’s best for the president to focus on his standing with all women in 2018 instead of reminiscing about 2016, especially as his party faces potentially tough midterms. Trump’s overall approval rating with women has decreased over the past two months, according to Gallup.