Juan Williams: The GOP's worsening problem with women

Take a look at the most telling Republican quotes on women from the last three years:

“Such a nasty woman!” — then-candidate Donald Trump describing his opponent Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 is not a family affair, for a change New York Democrat pens op-ed on why he opposes impeaching Trump Rob Zombie on canceling 'The Hunt': 'A bulls–-- sacrificial lamb that solves nothing in society' MORE during the 2016 campaign.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration GOP group's ad calls on Graham to push for election security: 'Are you still trying?' Harris keeps up 'little dude' attack on Trump after debate MORE (R-Ky.) in 2017, explaining why he stopped Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Biden's debate performance renews questions of health On The Money: Democratic candidates lay into Trump on trade | China exempts US soybeans, pork from tariff hikes | Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure MORE (D-Mass.) from saying anything more in a debate on the Senate floor.

And, for 2018, the winner emerged just this month:

“NEWSFLASH. I wasn’t asking for permission.”

ADVERTISEMENT

That’s Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikBarbra Streisand calls for end to 'antiquated' Electoral College Republican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems MORE (R-N.Y.) firing back on Twitter after the new chief of the House GOP’s campaign committee — a man — said she made a “mistake” by calling on the GOP to recruit more women to run for Congress in 2020.

Keep in mind that the House GOP caucus is more than 90 percent male. When the 116th Congress convenes in January, Stefanik will be one of just 13 Republican women in the House, the lowest number in 20 years.

It is hard to ignore the contrast with Democrats.

There will be 89 Democratic women in the House next year — 35 newly elected in the midterms, including the first two Muslim congresswomen and the first two Native American congresswomen. The GOP has only one woman in an overwhelmingly white freshman class.

But Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerGOP Rep. Sean Duffy resigning from Congress Democrat running for Will Hurd's seat raises over million in first 100 days of campaign The House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 MORE (R-Minn.), the campaign chairman, complained Stefanik was playing identity politics based on “gender, race and religion,” instead of looking for the best candidate.

Some Republican women sided with Stefanik.

Rep. Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackBottom line Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion Democrats take heat from party | More states sue Purdue over opioid epidemic | 1 in 4 in poll say high costs led them to skip medical care Lamar Alexander's exit marks end of an era in evolving Tennessee MORE (R-Tenn.) said Emmer “is wrong on this one.”

And in an interview with The Hill, retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenRepublican Salazar seeks rematch with Shalala in key Miami House district Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Fla.) said flatly, “Wake up, dudes!”

“I encourage our party leaders to be more aggressive in seeking out and helping younger candidates, female candidates and candidates of color," she added.

The Trump Party’s problem with women got worse last week when Speaker-designate Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWords matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump Nadler: Impeachment inquiry a 'made-up term' but it's essentially 'what we are doing' Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (D-Calif.) held her ground in a face-to-face confrontation with the president.

He tried to “mansplain” by saying she was still looking for support in her caucus to be elected as Speaker and therefore did not have the power to make a deal in any negotiation over funding for a border wall.

She did not back down, telling Trump he was out of line to question her ability to speak for House Democrats.

In the Senate, the Republican problem with women is only slightly better than it is in the House.

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay Ernst'Mike Pounce' trends on Twitter after Trump slip at GOP retreat Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Trump administration to repeal waterway protections MORE (R-Iowa) was recently chosen by her colleagues to serve as vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Conference, giving a woman a seat at the table in Senate GOP leadership for the first time in eight years.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Ernst’s rise can’t hide the reality: Of 24 female senators next year, just seven will be Republican, even though the GOP has a 53-member majority.

After Arizona Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMcSally knocks Arizona GOP official's call for supporters to stop Mark Kelly 'dead in his tracks' Top Arizona GOP official asks supporters to help stop 'gun grabber' Mark Kelly 'dead in his tracks' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's hurricane forecast controversy won't go away MORE (R) lost her bid for a Senate seat — to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema — McSally’s campaign strategists detailed how Trump’s toxicity among female voters contributed to her loss.

“In internal polling during the primary, President TrumpDonald John TrumpSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Trump is failing on trade policy Trump holds call with Netanyahu to discuss possible US-Israel defense treaty MORE never broke 80% favorability among Republican voters. A certain segment of [Arizona] Republicans was outright hostile to President Trump, and was against the Kavanaugh appointment,” read a post-mortem memo obtained by The Washington Post.

In fact, female voters nationwide favored Democrats by 19 points according to exit polls, while male voters favored Republicans by four points — a 23-point gender gap.

The problem is Trump, and it goes back to his win in the 2016 election.

According to the 2016 exit polls, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried all female voters by 13 points over Trump in 2016 — though Trump won white women by 9 points.

Keep in mind this was after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced, on which Trump boasted about grabbing women’s genitals.

An American University/Benenson Strategy Group poll released this month found that 71 percent of white suburban women were “concerned” about the way Trump speaks about women.

The poll found 60 percent of female voters view Trump unfavorably. And perhaps most challenging for the president’s reelection hopes, almost two-thirds of independent female voters view him unfavorably.

Trump’s supporters are heavily male but among women who still self-identify as Republican, 55 percent said they agree with Trump on important issues.

Those women are among the small but stable base of about 40 percent of voters who support Trump. The problem for the GOP is the growing number of women who are independents or Democrats. They are moving away from him.

In the age of Trump, Republican strategists know the party’s lack of support from women spells trouble for 2020 and beyond.

Democratic strategists argue support from female voters — especially minority women — is at the heart of the party’s future.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAt debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions Klobuchar, Buttigieg find themselves accidentally flying to debate together MORE (D-N.Y.), was ridiculed by conservatives earlier this month for tweeting, “Our future is: Female Intersectional Powered by our belief in one another. And we’re just getting started.”

They can make fun of her talk about “intersectional” issues. But political analysts from every point on the political spectrum can see Gillibrand is right about the rising political power of female voters.

Wake up, dudes. Seriously.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel. His latest book, "'What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?' — Trump's War on Civil Rights" is out now, published by Public Affairs Books.