U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth is pregnant. The Illinois Democrat announced yesterday that she will give birth to her second daughter this spring. It will make her the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office.
Imagine that. What are the chances that no one in the half of the population that has been producing children in sufficient numbers to sustain the republic for the 230 years since the first Congress met would not have done so while in office? One hundred percent, it turns out. How many senators have fathered children while in office? Too many to calculate. But hope springs eternal for that much-predicted but never quite here Year of the Woman.
There are encouraging signs — the #MeToo movement, the record number of women running for office and the sustained resistance to the anti-woman Trump administration—that if the election were held today, chances he would win are vastly reduced by just how much women dislike him. Sixty to 70 percent of women disapprove of him and college-educated women are increasingly abandoning him since his support for an allege child molester for Senate, according to a December Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
Democrats have a 20-point lead over Republicans with women and a 32-point lead among the college educated. Ivanka, Trump’s human shield, no longer helps. Her favorables have fallen below 40 percent; among young women, only 21 percent view her favorably, according to a Survey Monkey poll done for Cosmopolitan.
To get an idea of the real damage women could do to Trump’s re-election, look at this week’s CNN/SSRS poll, a more precise gauge given that it tracks actual matchups of likely candidates. Trump would go down to a whopping defeat to three of the most-mentioned potential challengers — all thanks to women. At almost every age, education level and race, women have moved against Trump to give Joe Biden a 36-point edge, Sen. Bernie Sanders 30 points, and Oprah Winfrey 29 points.
What a difference a year makes. In 2016, the first major party female presidential candidate had only a 13-point edge over Trump among all women. Now he’s down twice that. Trump carried white women by nine points. Now he loses those to Biden by 23 points, Sanders by 17, and Winfrey by 14. Female independents crush Trump favoring Biden by 44 points and Sanders by 28 points. As for those 50 years and younger, Sanders leads by 49 points and Biden 47.
Given Trump’s history with women, it’s a wonder he got this far. But now that there’s been a year of reckoning over how men, particularly those in power, treat women, his luck may be running out. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say sexual harassment is a very serious problem, a massive 34-point difference since a CNN/Time poll in 1998.
Hollywood is moving faster than Washington to address the problem. Trump claims not to know any of the women he’s linked to — consensually in the case of Stormy Daniels, and not consensually in the case of a dozen others whom he had to know as contestants on The Apprentice, in beauty pageants, in business with him, or in photos. But for now his denials are still playing among Republicans.
On Capitol Hill, male members in large numbers are feeling a sudden need to spend more time with their families. Just this month, three members of Congress — Reps. John Conyers, Rep. Trent Franks, and Sen. Al Franken — announced their resignations. Rep. Blake Farenthold and Ruben Kihuen will not seek re-election.
Just yesterday, Rep. Tim Meehan, a rock-ribbed, family values Republican from Pennsylvania, tried to defend himself against revelations that he paid off a young staffer by releasing a letter that makes you wonder if he paid the aide enough. The father of three wrote of his deep “affection” for the young aide he saw as a “soul mate,” although he didn’t mean that romantically, mind you, despite reacting badly when he learned she had a serious relationship with another man. He tried to pay her a confidential settlement to end her claim against him — but she never cashed the check.
Meehan, who ended the letter by thanking God for putting his soul mate in his life, is the latest proof that men, still just don’t get it. But the electorate just might. A Time magazine cover story this month chronicled an unprecedented surge of first time female candidates. Emily’s List says that since President’s Trump’s election, more than 26,000 women have reached out about launching a campaign. There are at least 79 women exploring runs for governor. The number of women in the Senate lining up to challenge Trump would more than fill the cramped room called the women’s gym. There is an increase of nearly 350 percent in those running for Congress.
That raises greatly the chances of doubling Sen. Duckworth’s record. The day when a president gives birth in the White House may not be that far off.
Margaret Carlson is a columnist for the Daily Beast. She was formerly the first woman columnist at Time magazine, a columnist at Bloomberg View, a weekly panelist on CNN’s “Capital Gang” and managing editor at the New Republic. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.