- - Wednesday, April 10, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Trump’s reelection effort will hinge on many elements, some of which he will be able to control (his message, strategy, first-term record) and some of which he will not be able to control (congressional investigations, an unforeseen jolt to the economy, external events). This time, his appeal will be directed both to and beyond the 63 million people who voted for him in 2016 as he seeks to expand his margins of victory.

One group that may unexpectedly aid his reelection? Women.

With the first female candidate at the top of a major-party ticket, expectations were high that Hillary Clinton would sail to the presidency on the wings of women voters, who tend to vote Democratic in significant numbers anyway. The conventional wisdom is that just as black voters came out in record numbers to elect Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, women would do the same for Mrs. Clinton.

They did not.

While Mrs. Clinton won 54 percent of all women (versus 42 percent who voted for Mr. Trump), the majority of non-college educated white women (64 percent) and a solid 45 percent of college-educated white women voted for Mr. Trump, helping to carry him to victory.



This time around, Mr. Trump can expect women to vote for him in even greater numbers, even if the Democrats nominate another female candidate, because he now has a quite extraordinary record on which to run, one which has benefitted women in remarkable ways.

Mr. Trump’s pro-growth economic policies — tax cuts, deregulation, opening up the energy sector, renegotiating international trade deals — have delivered a strong economy that has, in turn, granted women astonishing economic opportunity. As a result, the unemployment rate for women has reached historic lows, with more than 2.6 million women joining the workforce since he took office. The jobs gains are happening across the board, with black, Hispanic and Asian-American unemployment also at record lows, lifting women of all races into the thriving labor market.

Pivotal tax reform — the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — had a salutary effect on women, as it created a Dependent Care Credit and kept in place the Earned Income Tax Credit and Adoption Credit.

It also doubled the child tax credit, placing more money directly into the hands of working mothers, including even more generous benefits for lower-income and working-class families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Report on Poverty, these kinds of child tax and other refundable tax credits lifted over 8 million people out of poverty in 2016 alone.

In addition to the child tax credit, the administration has proactively moved to ensure that women can fully engage in the economy by creating a national program for workforce development that includes on-the-job training for millions of workers, apprenticeship programs and securing commitments for more than 200 companies to participate in creating “education, training and skill-based opportunities.” Low-income and low-skilled women in particular stand to benefit from these initiatives as they generally lack the time and resources to “skill up” on their own.

Another undercovered initiative helping women is the president’s directive to designate at least $200 million per year to technology and education grants to women and minorities. This is designed to boost female participation in the STEM fields as a way to encourage women to pursue highly-skilled, well-paying jobs in these areas and address existing gender inequality there as well.

This is a cause with passionate support from Ivanka Trump, who has also scaled the concept up by promoting the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, which aims to give priority to women’s economic development globally. Ms. Trump hopes that the program will educate and train women around the world to find jobs, and to start and to grow their own businesses. The economic benefit would redound to the United States and American workers.

It’s about empowering women to succeed by giving them the support and tools they need to compete in the 21st-century economy. It’s quite literally a hand up, not a hand-out. It’s about government creating a free-enterprise environment in which women can and do thrive because obstacles are removed and opportunities are opened up.

Unlike the left’s vacuous promises to provide an “economy that works for all” based on warmed-over socialism, Mr. Trump is actually producing one grounded in the free market.

That message — along with concrete economic benefits American women are experiencing every day — is contributing to a positive environment for Mr. Trump’s reelection. Of course, much depends on him and his reelection campaign’s ability to capitalize on these successes and message them directly to female voters.

Many women may not approve of his personal style, but at the same time, they’re hard-pressed to disapprove of his economic performance. They — like most Americans — are enjoying its fruits in direct ways. They may just need to be reminded of who is responsible for their improved economic position.

They are better off today than they were a few years ago under President Obama — and they know it. And that means that women — like blacks and Latinos — may surprise pollsters in 2020, just as they did in 2016.

• Monica Crowley is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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