The XX Factor

Donald Trump Is Pitting a Ton of Spouses Against Each Other

“Don’t even start with that wall stuff again, Jimmy.”

There’s a phenomenon in election polling that Democratic pollster Celinda Lake calls the “sure, honey” factor. In a previous election cycle, her firm, Lake Research Partners, found that 72 percent of men were confident that their female partners would vote for the same candidate they would. Just 49 percent of women felt the same way about their male partners. “Guys just assume who their wives are voting for,” Lake told the Guardian. “And I think some women go, ‘Sure, honey,’” but then go vote for someone else.

The 2016 election is bucking this particular rule of politics, among others. A new online poll from the Guardian and Ipsos Public Affairs found that four out of five Donald Trump supporters thought their spouses would vote for the same candidate, while nine out of 10 Hillary Clinton supporters thought the same. Since Trump voters skew male and Clinton voters skew female—Clinton beat Trump by about 14 points among women in a recent poll—these numbers are a surprising reversal of the “sure, honey” trend. It appears that people backing Clinton are remarkably confident that they didn’t marry someone who could vote for Trump, while Trump voters aren’t so sure their spouses won’t vote for Clinton.

The poll surveyed 1,249 adults who’d been with their partners since at least 2012. Of all people supporting either Clinton or Trump, male Trump voters were least confident that their spouses shared their views. In other words, Trump is dislikable enough that men aren’t comfortable just assuming that their wives will vote for him. Lake told the Guardian that, in focus groups, she’s hearing from married women that their husbands have been pressuring them to vote Trump; she says that’s a typical dynamic as Election Day approaches, but it’s been happening earlier in this cycle than previous ones.

Politically mixed straight marriages often hew to a particular gendered mold—the wife votes Democratic, the husband votes Republican—and the Trump-Clinton match-up is no different. But the gender gap between supporters of the would-be first female president and the most unabashedly misogynist candidate in modern U.S. history is so wide, the Guardian poll suggests that more marriages than usual are breaking along gender lines. Of poll-takers who said their spouses are voting for a different candidate this year, just about half said the same was true for the 2012 election. More Republican women are supporting Clinton than voted for the Democratic candidate in either of the last three presidential elections, meaning Trump is lagging behind the last three Republican candidates in that demographic by an average of almost 20 points.

So it stands to reason that the discord of a marriage torn asunder by Trump might be more acute than the tension provoked by less nuclear candidates. Slate’s own Dear Prudence advised one Trump hater married to a Trump lover that her husband’s respect for a candidate with such irresponsible, xenophobic, fascist fantasies about the presidency might reveal some “fundamental differences” between her and her spouse. The “Vote Trump, Get Dumped” campaign has an idea for the anti-Trump members of these partnerships: Withhold sex until your boo changes his vote. But some people are willing to take a more laissez-faire approach to marital politics. At the Cut, one woman wrote that her husband replied “So what?” when she confronted her Trump-supporting husband about the candidate’s misogyny. She decided that she’d rather have her husband think for himself, even if his brain landed on Trump as the best presidential candidate, than succumb to some kind of abstract “groupthink” around Clinton. Is that a reasonable excuse for a man brushing off his wife’s concerns about a committed woman-hater in the Oval Office? Sure, honey.