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Trump’s Criticism of Haley May Alienate Women Voters

Former President Trump’s critical remarks about Nikki Haley could potentially diminish his already delicate rapport with some segments of female voters as he advances toward the Republican nomination. His heightened critique of Haley, particularly during his post-victory address in New Hampshire where he disparaged her attire and derogatorily called her “birdbrain,” echoes his previous pattern of comments towards women. This approach may repel key female voters in a general election, amplifying concerns for Trump following signs of vulnerability among certain demographics in New Hampshire.

Juliana Bergeron, a member of the Republican National Committee from New Hampshire, expressed doubts about Trump’s ability to attract swing female voters and even some within the Republican fold. The balance in a tight race could be tipped by such comments, she suggested.

Since 2018, Trump and other Republican candidates have faced challenges in garnering support from women voters, especially those who are college-educated and residing in suburban areas. Data from the Pew Research Center highlighted that 54 percent of suburban women backed President Biden in 2020. The 2022 midterm elections further demonstrated suburban women’s resistance to Trump-endorsed candidates in key states.

Despite winning a majority of female votes in New Hampshire, Trump’s margin among women was notably slimmer compared to his lead among men. Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist, pointed out that Trump’s controversial remarks have long since solidified voter opinions, particularly among suburban women who are either repelled by his demeanor or reluctantly accept it for his policies.

Trump’s penchant for belittling his political adversaries, a tactic he has employed since his 2015 presidential campaign, often incorporates gender-based insults. Debbie Walsh, from the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, noted Trump’s use of gendered attacks not only against women but also in emasculating his male opponents.

Experts note that Trump’s jibes against female opponents and critics tend to be more personal. His history of remarks, including those against Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina, exemplifies his harsh approach, particularly towards women who challenge him. Haley’s determination to remain in the presidential race has seemingly aggravated Trump, leading to continued derogatory comments and calls for her to withdraw.

Some Republicans are puzzled by Trump’s focus on Haley, given his lead in polls, viewing it as unnecessary and petty. Yet, Trump’s campaign defends his tactics, arguing that his straightforward leadership style is what women voters seek, dismissing Haley as inconsistent and contrary to their interests.

However, the situation is complex, with some suggesting Haley’s continued candidacy might inadvertently aid President Biden by distracting Trump from focusing on the incumbent as his primary adversary. Despite past controversies, including the “Access Hollywood” tape incident, Trump has managed to secure electoral victories. Yet, the shifting national discourse on women’s issues, amplified by movements like “Me Too” and significant legal changes such as the overturning of Roe v. Wade, presents new challenges in engaging female voters, particularly in the context of Trump’s polarizing figure and the consequential political landscape.