UK’s Trump supporters heavily male, while Sanders wins broader audience

Men supported their candidate more than women surveyed at UK.

Patrick Brennan

This year’s presidential election sports a glaring contradiction —  a female frontrunner on the Democratic side and a misogynist frontrunner for the Republicans.

As the election nears, these issues are likely to become more important, but poll results at UK show that a split of opinions based on gender, for undergraduates, is limited to Donald Trump and some political issues.

The Kentucky Kernel conducted a campus-wide poll from Feb. 24 to Mar. 2. The results from 894 respondents showed resounding support among students for Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida).

While the last two presidential elections were dominated by discussions of race, gender played a bigger role this year. To this day, Sanders is accused of having “Bernie bros” — young, energetic males who form the base of his support.

However, results from Kernel poll dispel the myth of the Bernie bro. For one, Sanders gets more support from undergraduate females than males. Also, the distribution of strength of support related to gender was nearly the same for Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Overall, males and females differed on strength of support, with males expressing stronger support for their preferred candidate than females.

“Historically, they are underrepresented,” Gender and Women’s Studies assistant professor, Charlie Yi Zhang, said. “Females don’t feel strongly attached, or don’t feel they are involved in the political structures that have developed.”

National numbers don’t show a significant difference among the genders for Donald Trump’s support, but a disproportionate amount of his supporters at UK are male.

The poll shows a statistically significant difference, with twice as many male Trump supporters as female. Why is there a gender disparity for Trump supporters?

Zhang suggested that part of this is Trump’s appeal to economic and authoritarian mentalities.

“Looking at everything through the market model is one type of mentality,” Zhang said. “The modern conception of masculinity was actually created to support that kind of ideology … related to conquering people.”

Certainly Trump’s misogyny and appeal play a part, but this also raises the question of why Trump does well with women nationally. A look at the issues which students marked as most important might help to explain this tension.

Across the board, students chose health care as one of the top issues, except for those who preferred Trump. Trump support waivered, while over half of all females chose health care as one of the three most important issues.

Gender and Women’s Studies assistant professor Melissa Stein teaches classes on health disparities relating to gender, race and class.

“Health care has been a vital issue to feminism for four decades or more, well beyond reproductive health care specifically,” Stein said.

For whatever reason, many females at UK don’t see Trump as supporting their most important issue — health care. Ultimately, Sanders is succeeding with all types of undergraduates, Trump is failing among young women, and the media should recognize diversity and stop painting millennials with broad strokes.

“There’s a problem of the media talking about millennials as a monolithic group and not necessarily looking at race, class, gender, political and regional differences within that group,” Stein said.

Patrick Brennan is the assistant opinions editor of the Kentucky Kernel.

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