Of Trump/Pence & Pa. women

Carol Sides, a Pennsylvania delegate from Williamsport, thinks Donald Trump can win the Keystone State.

CLEVELAND - With Donald Trump's VP pick, Mike Pence, to address the GOP convention Wednesday night, I'm thinking a lot about gender politics.

Like Trump's saying all Hillary Clinton's got is the "woman card." Or polls showing Trump viewed unfavorably by more than 70 percent of women.

Now along comes Indiana Gov. Pence, who earlier this year signed one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws, and earlier than that spent time in Congress pushing to defund Planned Parenthood.

Not to suggest abortion and women's health issues drive every woman's vote, but it would appear this Trump/Pence combo, issue-wise, is something less than chickbait.

So a couple of things spring to mind.

You no doubt heard that Pennsylvania's increasingly seen as this year's path to Pennsylvania Avenue.

You likely know that women vote in higher proportions than men.

You might even know that the raw number of female voters has exceeded the number of male voters, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, in every presidential election since 1964.

Oh, and the candidate running against Trump/Pence is, you'll recall, seeking to become America's first female president.

I figured I'd talk with women who think Trump/Pence can win Pennsylvania.

Carol Sides is one. Because of The Donald.

She's from Williamsport, in the middle of the state. Her family owns five music stores. She's a convention delegate and a member of the national GOP platform committee who's been talked to about heading up a Pa. Women for Trump group.

"I'm really for Trump," she tells me. "I was really impressed after meeting his family [during the primary season]. He has an amazing family and you don't have that if you're not a good parent."

So, OK, the family thing's a plus.

State Rep. Tina Pickett, from Bradford County along the New York state border, is also a delegate. She owned and operated hotels and restaurants for 30 years. She's been in the Legislature for 16.

She says "women in business" will vote Trump/Pence.

"Donald Trump really understands how to push your way through the government to develop and grow a business," says Pickett, "and Pence adds balance as somebody inside who understands how government works."

And, she says, women like Trump for "the presentation he puts forth on family," noting his daughter Ivanka is in his company.

OK, more family pluses and business women.

And delegate Liz Preate Havey, Montgomery County, a lawyer with Philly firm Dilworth Paxon, says, "I think it's about the economy and safety."

She also thinks many women of both parties, as well as independents, will vote GOP once that becomes the focus.

"There's a lot of negative noise about both Clinton and Trump," she says. "You need to get through that to figure which will do more for the economy and the most to keep us safe."

Lots of polling, I'd note, suggests voters like Trump more than Clinton on those two issues.

And, yeah, these are Republican women, successful professionals, far from a representative sample of women across Pennsylvania.

But there's this. Pennsylvania isn't exactly politically female-friendly: never a U.S. senator, never a governor, no women in the congressional delegation, and one of the nation's lowest percentages of women in the Legislature (19 percent).

There's also this: Tucked in an ABC News/Washington Post poll this week is a finding that among college-educated white women, a group with whom Clinton held a 22-point lead just last month, Clinton and Trump are even.

So who knows?

This election cycle has defied so much conventional wisdom, it might just do so again regarding gender politics.


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