On its face, white women's support of Donald Trump was one of the more surprising facts to come out of the 2016 presidential election. He had been caught on tape admitting to sexual assault and had a documented record of judging women exclusively based on their looks. But even those facts didn't stop him from capturing the majority of votes cast by white women against Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be a major party nominee for president.
But if we look at recent voting trends, white women's support of Trump should surprise no one. That's according to Rebecca Traister, writer-at-large for New York magazine and author of the best-selling book All the Single Ladies, released in March. Traister has reported more extensively than anyone on gender and this election cycle.
Traister spoke at Mic's Women in Media breakfast earlier in December about what she learned on the campaign trail. White women voting for Trump was "the last surprising thing" about this election, Traister said.
"White women vote Republican, and they have," she said. "In fact the last Democrat that they voted for was Bill Clinton... one of the things to remember is that Bill Clinton interrupted his 1992 campaign to execute Ricky Ray Rector. And Bill Clinton took great strategic care to dress down Sista Souljah."
Traister suggests that, despite her flaws, Hillary Clinton's decision to call out racism and sexism in her "basket of deplorables" speech — to essentially do what her husband would not — was what doomed her with white female voters.
"When she made the deplorables comment, which I know smart people [say] was a strategically bad idea for her to do, to me that was the moment when she was doing the thing I most wanted... to say, 'Actually, I'm not going to do this, I understand there are a lot of white people out there who are threatened by the fact the conversation suggests that if they support Donald Trump, they might be racist, they might be sexist, they might be xenophobic,'" Traister said. "But I'm going to double down and say yes. That is the inverse of what Bill Clinton did in 1992 and it was what I want to see a candidate do. It may also be why that candidate lost."
"I was surprised not because it was out of line with history, but because it was out of line in a very technical way with polling," Traister said.
Traister's entire talk is worth listening to because she so expertly unravels the disparate strands of this election. Watch below.