He has admitted to molesting women; he has been accused by at least 12 women of sexual harassment; he thinks women should have dinner ready on the table; and has said that he would date his daughter. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has a number of sexist comments, and alleged deeds, under his belt and yet an aggregate poll model puts him neck and neck with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
So are his supporters ignoring his blatant misogyny because they think he would be a good president? Is he tapping into their fears by saying he will keep America safe by vetting Muslims or will improve the US economy (even though Wall Street plummets when Clinton’s campaign takes a hit)? A fresh look at a Washington Post study by Vox suggests one reason Trump supporters stand by him is because they might be sexist.
Authors of the study, which was conducted in June, say "sexism was strongly and significantly correlated with support for Trump." The research was conducted on a nationally-representative sample of 700 respondents.
Researchers Carly Wayne, Nicholas Valentino and Marzia Oceno used an index commonly used to measure sexism in their survey. In addition to asking which candidate they supported, respondents were asked if they agreed with the following four statements:
- Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist.
- Many women are actually seeking special favours, such as hiring policies that favour women over men, under the guise of asking for equality.
- Feminists are not actually seeking for women to have more power than men.
- Feminists are making entirely reasonable demands of men.
The analysis by Vox said respondents who were hostile to women were more likely to support the Republican candidate.
According to Mic, these results were not surprising, as even after Trump’s hot mic comments about grouping women 74 percent of Republican respondents to a poll said their party should continue supporting him.
What fuels hostile sexism?
The word hostile is used to distinguish these respondents from others who hold an old-fashioned but gentle view of gender roles; the kind of chivalrous sexism which would not overtly oppress a woman but assumes she is incapable of opening the door. This more benign type of sexism did not correlate with support for Trump based on another study conducted by Wayne.
Unlike fear, which makes people gravitate towards closed homogenous societies and tighter boundaries, Wayne, Valentino, and Oceno’s study concluded that anger fuelled hostile sexism.
The researchers measured support for Trump after respondents were manipulated into feeling anger or fear. They found "the impact of sexism" was larger in those who were primed to feel rage.
In the Washington Post article, the authors said their "research suggested racial prejudice or sexism may be catalysed more by anger."
Would Trump supporters vote for a woman?
According to a poll conducted by Conquest Communications Group in October, 72 percent of surveyed Trump’s supporters said it did not matter whether the presidential candidate is a man or a woman. Within the same group, 25 percent preferred a male and 2 percent a female president.
The National Review used the results of this poll and the questions by the Washington Post study to argue that Trump’s supporters are not sexist. Instead the Review suggests the Post measured more of an opinion about feminists than women in general.
Yet, many of Trump supporters do not shy away from admitting they are somewhat aligned with his comments about women.
Some have supported his derogatory comments about a former pageant winner gaining weight.
One woman was quoted by The Guardian as saying women should not be in the White House. "The three P’s," Rene said. "Police officers, preachers or presidents."