CLEVELAND — Among the refrains during Monday night’s convention speeches was that “All lives matter.” But as has been true for much of Donald Trump’s campaign, there was special attention paid to the lives of men.
Of the 27 speakers on Monday night, 20 were men. Of the women, four were grieving the loss of a son or brother, either at the hands of illegal immigrants or during the Benghazi attacks.
Supporters and pundits say that with terrorist attacks and police shootings in the headlines, the Trump campaign’s focus on the night’s theme — Making America Safe Again — may help boost Mr. Trump’s support among women. Still, Monday’s focus did not go unnoticed.
“Security has long been associated with masculinity, which Trump has made a cornerstone of his campaign,” said Dana Brown, the executive director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. And she said Monday night’s focus on male victims tied into a broader narrative.
“Based on the Trump campaign’s rhetoric, they believe that men, especially white men, have been left out in this new, changing economy.”
Indeed, Mr. Trump’s discussions of the economy focuses most heavily on economic sectors, like manufacturing and mining, where men predominate.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up just under 47 percent of the total workforce. But they make up just 5 percent of mining jobs, among the lowest concentrations of the economy. Their share of manufacturing jobs is under 30 percent, and within that sector they are concentrated most heavily in industries like apparel and baking. In steelmaking, they hold just 11 percent of jobs.
“His comfort zone is around issues that best align with white, male voters,” said Christopher Borick, a political science professor and pollster at Muhlenburg College. “His outreach to women voters is less clear and not as comfortable.”
Mr. Trump has stumbled on issues like abortion rights. Though formerly pro-choice, he claims to have “evolved” on the issue: In March, he said that if abortion was illegal, women who sought one could face “Some form of punishment.” He later walked back that position, which is harsher than many anti-abortion activists espouse.
But while Mr. Trump has been plagued by a “gender gap” in polls pitting him against Democrat Hillary Clinton, the gap may be shrinking. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll showed Mr. Trump drawing even with Ms. Clinton among college-educated women: Ms. Clinton previously led by 22 among that group. A Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvania voters this month found a similar trend, with Ms. Clinton’s edge among women there dropping from 16 points to just 4.