Why didn’t more women vote for Hillary Clinton?

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tags: Hillary Clinton, election 2016



Jad Adams is a historian specialising in radicalism and nationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is a Research Fellow at the Institute of English, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and a Fellow of the Institute of Historical Research. His books include major biographies of Tony Benn, of Gandhi, and a composite biography of the Nehru dynasty. A frequent reviewer of books for national publications, he lives in London and on the Greek island of Leros. He is the author of Women and the Vote: A World History (OUP, 2014). This post originally appeared on the OUPblog.

Hillary Clinton was confidently predicted to ‘crack the country’s highest glass ceiling once and for all.’ In Rochester, New York women queued up to put tokens on the grave of Susan B. Anthony, the nineteenth century suffragist and architect of the 19th amendment to the US constitution which gave federal voting rights to woman in 1920 (they had been voting in territories and states since 1869).

Well, Tuesday’s election certainly saw a breakthrough but it wasn’t for Clinton and it wasn’t based on gender, despite confident predictions that women or men were going to swing the vote for either candidate

If gender was going to be the determining factor, this was the election where it should happen.  Clinton was a respectable public servant, wife and mother. Trump was the epitome of swaggering masculinity, bragging in an Access Hollywood bus of the most gross expressions of gendered bad behaviour. No one, male or female, minimised this. But the expectation that it would create a political earthquake and shame him out of the race was utterly wrong. In fact, his ability to ride through and surmount this and other proofs of his personal failings made him a stronger candidate. This should have been no surprise. In the 1990s when moralists were out for Bill Clinton’s blood because of his failings as a husband, his poll ratings stayed high. This was a president under whom there was prosperity at home and peace abroad, voters male and female could tell the difference between personal behaviour and politics.

It was not a new lesson: Grover Cleveland in the unforgiving nineteenth century produced a child out of wedlock while in the White House but still went on to win a second term – and, indeed, to be the only president in history to win two non-consecutive terms, despite his opponents’ jeers of ‘Ma, ma, where’s my pa?’ ...




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