Mr Trump has lost support from women after allegations of sexual assault and affairs — and it could hurt him in 2020. Picture: Alex Edelman / AFP
Mr Trump has lost support from women after allegations of sexual assault and affairs — and it could hurt him in 2020. Picture: Alex Edelman / AFP

Donald Trump’s big problem with women

Donald Trump is facing down a revolt from female politicians in his party, who say the Republicans' problems with women have reached "crisis level".

The number of GOP women in Congress is set to shrink from 23 to 13 in January - the lowest since 1994 - and it could be fatal for the US President's 2020 hopes.

In contrast, the Democrats fared exceptionally well at the midterms with female voters, who favoured the party over the Republicans by 59 per cent to 40 per cent.

It means the Democrats have a record 89 women in Congress, almost seven times as many as the GOP, which could cement their popularity with female voters at the next presidential election.

It's a massive problem for Mr Trump, with female voters backing away following allegations of sexual assault, sexism and paying off porn stars and Playboy models after affairs.

His support for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after rape allegations and mocking of accuser Christine Blasey Ford at a campaign rally also failed to play well with women.

"Wake up, dudes," said retiring Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in The Hill. "We have to step up our game or risk having the nation look upon us as the political party of the grandparents.

"I encourage our party leaders to be more aggressive in seeking out and helping younger candidates, female candidates and candidates of colour."

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is fighting to get more GOP women elected. Picture: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is fighting to get more GOP women elected. Picture: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Elise Stefanik, who was until this year the youngest woman elected to Congress at 34, announced this week that she planned to focus on helping other female Republicans in primary races win seats.

Chairman-elect of the National Republican Congressional Committee Tom Emmer called the idea a "mistake".

Ms Stefanik fired back on Twitter: "I will continue speaking out abt (sic) the crisis level of GOP women in Congress & will try to lead and change that by supporting strong GOP women candidates through my leadership PAC.

"But NEWSFLASH I wasn't asking for permission."

 

Liz Cheney, who was recently elected GOP conference chairwoman, told The Washington Post: "I think the Republicans have to get off of defence on this issue.

"We need more women running for office, no doubt."

At a forum last month for candidates running for leadership posts, Stefanik stood up and gestured around a room overwhelmingly filled with white male faces.

"Take a look around," she told the Republican politicians. "This is not reflective of the American public."

Ms Stefanik said she then asked Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan, the minority leader candidates, what their plans were to recruit and elect more women. "I was struck that I really didn't get an answer," she said.

The 34-year-old successfully recruited 100 female candidates to run at the midterms, but just one new Republican woman, Carol Miller, will be sworn in for her first term in January.

That comes in stark contrast to the Democrats, who will see a record 89 women serving in the House of Representatives, nearly seven times the number of Republican women.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said they risked becoming ‘the political party of the grandparents’.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said they risked becoming ‘the political party of the grandparents’.

But Ms Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick, said she does not see any need for change on policies around women

"I've always felt like it was very paternalistic to do what the Democrats do," she told the Post. "It's offensive to women."

Ms Cheney has been elected conference chairman after just two years, something that took her father more than eight. But she has reached a "glass ceiling". No Republican woman, in the House or Senate, has ever moved up to party whip, leader or House speaker.

Sarah Chamberlain, CEO of moderate faction Republican Main Street Partnership, also vowed to support female recruits.

She said Democrats had the advantage of Emily's List, a committee that recruits and supports female candidates founded in 1985, while the Republicans had nothing as established.

But male Republicans were not as forthcoming on the women issue in the party.

"I think people know what happened, but in certain positions it's difficult to say those things," said Trump critic Ryan Costello. "The President was on the ballot. The President himself said he was on the ballot."

Mr Emmer said building up the number of women in Congress was a priority for him, and the NRCC is creating a new program focused on this.

"We need to elect more Elise Stefaniks, more Liz Cheneys," he said.

 

 

GOP conference chairwoman Liz Cheney said Republicans needed to stop being defensive over the issue. Picture: AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File
GOP conference chairwoman Liz Cheney said Republicans needed to stop being defensive over the issue. Picture: AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File


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