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Juan Williams: Angry white women

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Who knew white women had become so angry?

The anger animating the divide between the GOP establishment and the GOP grassroots is always presented in terms of angry white men.

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It is impossible to ignore, as The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin noted last week, that Republican media and political culture these days, both in Congress and on the campaign trail, is “perpetually angry.”

But a new poll shows that white women are the angriest of angry voters.

The NBC News/Esquire magazine poll, conducted with Survey Monkey, found 54 percent of white Americans have been getting angrier over current events during the past year. 

That is far higher than the 43 percent of Latinos and 33 percent of black Americans who say the last year of political, economic and cultural events have left them feeling angry. In fact, 73 percent of whites (compared to 66 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of blacks) say they get angry “at least once per day.”

And the angriest white people are white women.

Fifty-eight percent of white women say they are angrier right now than a year ago. Only 51 percent of white men say the same thing, as do just 44 percent of non-white women and 32 percent of non-white men. 

In political terms, the anger of white Republican women is at the heart of the finding that Republicans are far angrier about the nation’s direction than Democrats. Sixty-one percent of Republicans say they are in a political rage over current events as compared to 42 percent of Democrats.

Just as the scale of anger among white Republican women is a surprise so is its shape. A December Quinnipiac poll found 27 percent of Republican women backing businessman Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDem immigration platform courts Hispanics Dem platform draft adopts Sanders proposal on taxing foreign earnings Dem draft platform a full repudiation of Trump MORE, only slightly behind the 30 percent of white Republican men who do so.

And while Trump does far better with Republican men who do not have a college degree (74 percent approval) than among GOP male college graduates (57 percent approval), the picture is more consistent with his female boosters. The same poll found half of women with a college degree rate Trump favorably. That is hardly any different than the 51 percent of Republican women without a college degree who back Trump.

These angry white Republican women seem indifferent to the political storms stirred by Trump’s comments about women, ranging from his “blood coming out of her wherever” comment about my Fox News colleague Megyn Kelly to insulting Carly Fiorina, the only women running for the GOP nomination, by telling a reporter: “Look at that face – would anyone vote for that?”

Of course, Trump has also skewered the white woman fighting for the Democratic nomination. He belittled former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a woman who got “schlonged” in the 2008 primaries and described her bathroom break during a recent debate as “disgusting.” 

None of that has hurt Trump with white Republican women. 

Polls consistently show that Trump's support is strongest among older people. A third of his backers in most polls are over age 65 and about another half are aged between 45 and 64. Among women in those age-groups, it seems plausible that anger about larger political issues, from high rates of immigration to concern about their retirement income, outweighs any concern about Trump’s slights aimed at other white women.

Overall, whites feel a far deeper concern about those issues.

On immigration, for example, the issue that boosted Trump to the lead in national polls, only 43 percent of whites agree that “immigrants strengthen our country,” according to the NBC News/Esquire poll. That is much lower than the 63 percent of blacks and the 73 percent of Hispanics who see the upside to immigration.

The fuel feeding the fire of rage among whites, according to the poll, has three sources: concern that the U.S. is no longer the world’s most powerful nation; the belief that the American dream is dying for their children; and the realization that it is harder for their middle-class families to keep up than they expected it to be. 

Even as the nation remains mostly white, with most of its wealth and political power securely in white hands, the pollsters concluded whites today are feeling “the anger of perceived disenfranchisement — a sense that the majority has become a persecuted minority, the bitterness of promise that didn’t pan out — rather than actual hardship.”

It is striking that black and Hispanic Americans are more optimistic than whites and far less angry — even as 70 percent of blacks admit to anger at how society treats them.

Esquire’s report on the polling noted that while non-white Americans report they have a tougher time paying bills, blacks are “more likely than whites to believe that the American dream is still alive; that America is still the most powerful country in the world; that race relations have improved over the past eight years; and most important in the context of expectations, that their financial situation is better than they thought it would be when they were younger.”

So where is the white Republican anger, especially the growing female white anger, heading? It is fracturing the GOP, leaving the party at war with itself. 

But to what end?

Juan Williams is an author and political analyst for Fox News Channel.