Millennial Women Tell Us What They've Got Against Ivanka Trump
Ivanka’s approval rating among millennial women is lower than her father’s. Could this be because she’s trying to be everything to everyone?
If the White House were a school, Ivanka Trump would be the popular girl: the one everyone loves to hate, but whose oafish dad runs the entire town, so they have to put up with her for fear of being iced out.
Ivanka, who is not just the first daughter, but a senior advisor to the president of the United States, likewise gets by on miles of social and political capital she has not earned. She has long been a golden girl in the eyes of the press, as is common for the privileged-and-polished heirs of wealthy American families. But now that her dad is president, this has transformed into something that resembles real power, the kind that looks good in a photo op (she loves getting her picture taken with anyone and everyone), plays well in a soundbyte (all those inoffensive talking points about women’s economic empowerment), and gets her positive press (publicly disagreeing with her father just enough). On anyone else, this might look like the air of an accomplished diplomat who’s figured out how to appease all the various cliques — but in Ivanka Trump’s case, it’s simply left most women unsure what to make of her.
By never saying anything to upset anyone, she seems to have done just that. According to a new poll from Refinery29 and CBS News that examines the attitudes of American women between the ages of 18 and 35, only 18% said they view her favourably, while 46% said they view her unfavourably. The remaining 36% are undecided.
“Ivanka Trump is obviously a liberal, whereas her father governs as a conservative,” said Stephanie Kerr, 25, a Republican, in a follow-up interview with Refinery29 after the poll. Kerr said her opinion is unfavourable, and her distaste comes down to Ivanka being a liberal in pearls and a red suit. “Although she is vilified by the media, and I do not care for her liberal opinions, I do not have any strong feelings about her either way. I think the media focuses too much on the president's family. Ivanka Trump was not elected; her father was.” (As a White House senior advisor, Ivanka is a public servant.)
Among Republicans, 18% had an unfavourable view of Ivanka, while another 44% said they had a favourable view. (The remaining 38% were undecided.) Among Democrats, 73% said they dislike the first daughter, while only 5% held a favourable view. (Independents' views fell in line with the general crowd — 18% favourable, 43% unfavourable, and the rest undecided.)
The poll found that when you consider women of all ages (not just the millennials), they are more charitable toward Ivanka — 29% of women overall said they had a favourable opinion of her. This is still not super-high considering how the historically unpopular president himself fared in this poll: Only 29% of millennial women and 37% of all women polled said they were either “happy” or “satisfied” with his presidency (his overall approval rating is currently 42%).
Ivanka’s low approval ratings may be so surprising because it was precisely her likability that many believe helped win over 53% of white women for Trump in 2016. As the more palatable, softer, and more moderate Trump, she’s seen by many as the rose-colored lens that helps women look beyond his pussy-grabbing ways. Since he took office, Ivanka has positioned herself as a champion of women’s rights — showing up at the inauguration in a white pantsuit and taking on paid family leave and women’s economic empowerment, but never going so far as to truly break with her father on hot-button issues that impact women like reproductive rights, sexual harassment, and his hard line on immigration.
This might explain why, according to the Refinery29/CBS News poll, six in 10 millennial women said they didn’t think she had much of an influence on the president. Another 22% said she has been a positive influence, and 18% said she has been a negative influence.
“I like her because she is a strong woman,” 31-year-old Kelli Hoffman, a Democrat, told Refinery29 in a follow-up interview. “I don’t think she has influence over the president, though. I just figured the president stands alone on decisions.”
“She has strong opinions about many issues, particularly issues regarding women, and she makes those opinions known to President Trump,” Kerr said, adding, “I do not believe she has any strong influence over the president or his policies.”
Other than Republican women, groups that tend to have the highest opinions of Ivanka include married people and mothers, suggesting her appeal as a mom of three still holds some sway. Among millennial married women, 22% had favourable opinions, while 15% of unmarried women felt the same. Among parents of children under 18, 25% said they like her, while only 13% of non-parents said they did. Students, meanwhile, have a particularly bleak view of Ivanka, with only 10% saying they had a favourable opinion.
What does this all mean for Ivanka’s upcoming plans to campaign for the GOP in blue states and suburban districts this fall? It’s too early to tell. What we do know: Trotting out Ivanka Trump in an effort to appeal to women isn’t a sure bet. In these polarised times, perhaps the safest strategy is to pick a side and stick to it.