WESTERVILLE, Ohio: For Donald Trump to win the White House in November, he’ll need the votes of women like lifelong Republican Wendy Emery.
Yet the 52-year-old from the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, can’t commit to voting for her party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
“I’m just disappointed, really disappointed,” she said while standing in her arts and crafts shop. She and her circle of friends are “still in shock” over Trump’s success and wonder who’s voting for him, “because we don’t know any of them.”
Emery’s negative impression of Trump was shared by most of the dozens of white, suburban women from politically important states who were interviewed by The Associated Press this spring. Their views are reflected in opinion polls, such as a recent AP-GfK survey that found 70 percent of women have unfavorable opinions of Trump.
Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign sees that staggering figure as a tantalizing general election opening.
While white voters continue to abandon the Democratic Party, small gains with white women could help put likely nominee Clinton over the top if the November election is close. Democrats believe these women could open up opportunities for Clinton in North Carolina, where President Barack Obama struggled with white voters in his narrow loss in the state 2012, and even in Georgia, a Republican stronghold that Democrats hope to make competitive.
Patty Funderburg of Charlotte, North Carolina, voted for Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, but says she’s already convinced that Trump won’t get her vote.
“He’s not who I’d want to represent our country,” said Funderburg, a 54-year-old mother of three.
Trump insists he’s “going to do great with women.” He’s accused Clinton of playing the “woman’s card” in her bid to become the first female commander in chief.
About 40 percent of women surveyed said Clinton would be best at protecting the country and handling the threat posed by the Daesh group, and about 30 percent said Trump.
A super political action committee backing Clinton has released its first television advertisements featuring Trump’s contentious statements about women.
“Does Donald Trump really speak for you?” the ad asks.
For many of the women interviewed, the answer appears to be no.
“He’s just a jerk,” said Elizabeth Andrus, a registered Republican in Delaware, Ohio, who says she voted twice for Obama. She praised Trump’s political skills and argued his business career indicates an intellect and ability that could benefit the nation.
But his temperament, she said, is somewhere between “buffoonery” and “complete narcissism.”
“It would be like having Putin for president,” she added, referring to Russia’s sometimes belligerent president, Vladimir Putin.