US Election 2016

Playing 'the woman card': How would a female Trump do?

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Media captionDonald Trump made the comments about Hillary Clinton after winning all five of Tuesday's primaries

After Donald Trump swept to victory in all five Republican primaries on Tuesday, he said that if his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton were a man "I don't think she'd get 5% of the vote".

He added: "The only thing she's got going is the woman's card, and the beautiful thing is, women don't like her."

Putting to one side for a moment Mr Trump's claims regarding Mrs Clinton's chances, we ask - how would a female Trump fare in the US presidential race?

Does being a woman confer electoral advantage - would our putative "Mrs Trump" be a winner?

The numbers

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Image caption Hillary Clinton - will she be Madam President?

Hillary Clinton is more popular among woman voters than among men, as Vox explains using recent polling figures from Morning Consult.

She is also, contrary to Mr Trump's assertion, much more popular among woman voters than he is. But what the polls do not show is whether those woman voters are Clinton supporters because of her gender or because of her policies.

In fact, younger women in some polls are more likely to support Bernie Sanders than Mrs Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Millennials "do not care" that Mrs Clinton is a woman, wrote Molly Roberts in her contribution to a Politico article entitled Hillary's woman problem.

In February FiveThirtyEight commissioned Morning Consult to find out if voters were more or less likely to support a woman candidate. While most of those polled said that a candidate's gender would have no impact on how they voted, they did find that more Republicans than Democrats said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who was male.

Indeed, for Republican voters, the preference among women for a male candidate is nearly as big as among men. This suggests that Mr Trump would not be at an advantage - at least during the primary season - if he were a Mrs Trump instead.


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Donald Trump's bombast does not seem to put his supporters off. His speeches are peppered with outspoken criticisms of his rivals and his Twitter insults are so frequent that the New York Times even maintains an inventory.

Could a Mrs Trump get away with this?

Probably not, according to linguistics professor Deborah Tannen, who explains the double-bind facing women who run for office:

"If a candidate - or manager - talks or acts in ways expected of women, she risks being seen as under-confident or even incompetent," she wrote in the Washington Post.

"But if she talks or acts in ways expected of leaders, she is likely to be seen as too aggressive and will be subject to innumerable other negative judgments - and epithets - that apply only to women."

Donald Trump: The schlong and the short of it

Can Donald Trump really change his image?

Keeping up appearances

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Mr Trump's hair and perma-tan have attracted more column inches than the appearance of most male politicians. But has he had to deal with the sort of personal attacks that female contenders face daily?

Take this, from Mr Trump himself, on former Republican contender Carly Fiorina: "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?"

Ms Fiorina responded: "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr Trump said."

Barack Obama has acknowledged the extra sartorial challenges facing female candidates, telling Politico that in 2008 Mrs Clinton, then his rival for the Democratic nomination, "had to do everything that I had to do, except, like Ginger Rogers, backwards in heels.

"She had to wake up earlier than I did because she had to get her hair done."

Female politicians - and professional women generally - have to fork out for a large number of different, appropriately styled and flattering outfits in a range of colours (not for nothing does Mrs Clinton describe herself as a "pantsuit aficionado" in her Twitter biog). Their male counterparts can get away with a narrow selection of suits and ties, saving the mental energy needed to plan a campaign wardrobe.

Is insulting women's looks the same as mocking Trump's hair?

Personal life

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Image caption Donald Trump with his blended family - having it all?

Mr Trump has been married three times, divorced twice, and has five children. His current wife, Melania, a Slovenian-born former model, is nearly 24 years his junior.

Would a woman with such a marital track record succeed in politics - or would she need to demonstrate her cookie-baking credentials and discuss the strains of "having it all" as she combined her career with her large family?

Mrs Clinton's personal life (one high-profile marriage, one daughter) has been pored over for decades.

And her decision to stay married was attacked by Ms Fiorina in a Republican debate earlier this year: "Listen, if my husband did what Bill Clinton did, I would have left him long ago," the Republican said.

And Mrs Clinton was roundly criticised when she dismissed cookie-baking in favour of policy-making.

"You know, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfil my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life," she said in 1992, when her husband was running for president.

'If she weren't my daughter...'

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Image caption Ivanka Trump - she does have "a very nice figure", according to her dad

Mr Trump has made several public comments praising the physical attractiveness of his oldest daughter Ivanka.

In 2006 he told a talkshow audience that "if Ivanka weren't my daughter perhaps I'd be dating her". And in 2015 he told a Rolling Stone reporter: "Yeah, she's really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren't happily married and, ya know, her father..."

If any readers can remember a female politician joking about fancying her adult son, please write in.

What does Hillary Clinton say about the 'woman card'?

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