Voices of Voters: Women In The 2016 Presidential Race

Oct 28, 2016

Women make up more than half of the voters in Ohio. Women’s issues and the way women are treated have dominated the talk through much of this year’s presidential campaign. In the latest installment in the Statehouse News Bureau’s series featuring voices of voters, women talk about the issues that are driving their decisions this year.

Polls show Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is the favorite of most women who say they intend to vote. But there are plenty of women who will be voting for the Republican nominee Donald Trump. Phyllis Oliver of Newark, a Trump organizer in Licking County, is one of them.

“I don’t vote with my vagina." She laughs. "I don’t know if you are allowed to say that. But no, I’ve been a Republican most of my life, was not going to vote this year until Mr. Trump came out. I think we need a business man. My major was in business. I have a military son," Oliver said. "I have a son-in-law who is a police officer and we are under attack. And nobody seems to want to mention it and if you do mention it, somehow you are a racist, a misogynist. But women don’t vote with their private parts. They vote with their brain."

At a recent rally with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence in Columbus, Jane Kelly from suburban Columbus, said she is backing Trump because he’s not a career politician. And she thinks he’ll fix the economy. She said she’s not bothered by Trump’s outspoken and sometimes controversial statements because she thinks even then, he speaks for many like her. “This is what we think. This is how we talk. And when we express it, we are called 'deplorables'," Kelly said.  "Donald Trump – we are not agreeing with Donald Trump. He’s agreeing with us.”

Cindy Novak of central Ohio is part of a group called “Ohio Women for Trump.” She’s a small business owner. She wants lower taxes, fewer regulations and an end to the current health care system. And she says lots of women agree with her and will vote against Clinton. “We are not voting for Hillary because she’s a woman. We want the best candidate and I just don’t think you should vote for somebody, just because they check a box,” Novak said.

But there are some women who are voting for Hillary Clinton, in large part because she’s a woman. Jennifer Slone of Waverly is one of them. “I think it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to vote for a woman for president. That’s something that’s very important to me. Amidst everything that’s going on, we tend to think that women are equal but we are not so I’ll be glad to vote for someone who is pulling for me,” said Slone.

Jacki Mitchell of Columbus said Clinton better understands issues that are important to female voters.  “It’s not just because she’s a woman. It’s because every position she’s held, she’s been concerned with families," Mitchell said. "The child care act. Obviously, Planned Parenthood. She’s got a plan that makes sure we can afford day care. We shouldn’t have to pay day care that costs more than our house payment.”

It might come as a surprise to some that a woman who once worked for a Republican former Ohio governor is also in Clinton’s corner. Mary Anne Sharkey worked for Gov. Bob Taft. She says she’s an independent voter who has often voted for Republicans, but not this time. She said she just can’t vote for Trump. "He really was in it to win for himself. As someone who has watched the Republican Party for a long time, I think of Republicans as being smaller government. I think he’s bigger government. I think of being less intrusive in people’s lives. I think he’d be very intrusive in people’s lives.," Sharkey said.  "And I don’t think he really adheres to the basic Republican viewpoints.”

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows likely women voters in Ohio back Clinton 53%-41%.