Women in 2016 are not excited by either party's front-runner, and in fact actively dislike both.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and business mogul Donald Trump are both underwater when it comes to women voters. Trump, due in part to his past statements and braggadocio, fares far worse than Clinton, but both are disliked by a majority of American women, according to polls.
Trump has never had a net-positive favorable rating with women, but his likability is getting worse as he continues to stumble through answers on abortion and insult female members of the media. Nearly three-quarters of women said they had a negative view of Trump in a March CNN/OCR poll. That's up from a 59 percent unfavorable rating among women in December.
Republican women, however, according to the CNN poll, have a generally positive view of Trump, with 59 percent holding a favorable opinion of the front-runner and 39 percent having an unfavorable opinion. Trump's main GOP competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, did not do any better with women in the poll. Thirty-seven percent of registered Republican women held an unfavorable opinion of Cruz, while 56 percent held a favorable opinion.
But combining the CNN poll with a Morning Consult poll shows that Trump has a 42 percent unfavorable rating among GOP voters, while Cruz's unfavorable rating is 35 percent.
Further, nearly one-third of Republican women said they don't want Trump to win. Naomi Shaefer Riley suggests in the New York Post that the more than two-thirds of Republican women who are at least okay with Trump winning are likely basing their support on his foreign policy stance.
Still, the massive unfavorable rating Trump holds among all women will severely hurt him in the general election if he is the GOP nominee, as women make up more than half of the electorate. Trump is going to have to work incredibly hard in the general election (again, if he's the nominee) to win over women voters, and he's given no hints about how he will do so.
Clinton's favorability with women voters is underwater as well. A recent McLaughlin & Associates (a Republican polling firm) found 58 percent of women had an unfavorable view of the Democratic front-runner. This same poll found Trump had a 68 percent unfavorable rating among women, similar to that found in other polls.
If you want to discount a Republican polling firm, fine, but the poll isn't wildly out of line with others that have also found Clinton to be unpopular among women. Young women by and large (outside of the Lena Dunhams of the world) aren't excited about Clinton — they prefer her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Polls conducted earlier this year (before the primaries) found Sanders with a 19-point lead among women between the ages of 18 and 34. Clinton's lead among women had also fallen dramatically, from 45 points at the end of 2015 to 19 points in January.
The CNN poll I mentioned earlier found Clinton to have a 50 percent unfavorable rating among all respondents, and a 49 percent favorable rating. The poll again showed that younger women do not have a favorable opinion of Clinton, although young registered voters or registered Democrats were not included in some of the questions.
A Huffington Post average of five recent polls found Clinton to have a net favorability among women of -5, meaning more women dislike her than like her. Sanders, on the other hand, had a net favorability of +11 among women.
In a contest between the two front-runners, however, there is no contest. Women may dislike both candidates, but if they had to choose, they'd back Clinton. The CNN poll found that 60 percent of women said they would vote for Clinton, compared to 33 percent saying the same of Trump.
Trump's rivals, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also lose with women, but by much smaller margins. Kasich loses women by 7 points and Cruz loses by 15 points. For reference, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lost women to President Obama by 11 points in 2012, and Arizona Sen. John McCain lost women to Obama by 13 points in 2008.
The Republican Party had been working to make inroads with women voters. Now they seem poised to lose all that progress — and then some. Women will end up voting for Clinton, even if they don't like her very much. John McLaughlin and Jim McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates may have put it best in an article about their poll:
"So both the leading candidates have very high unfavorable ratings among women. This portends an ugly battle to come. But winning ugly is still winning. That's Hillary Clinton's ironic strategy."
Republicans will have to overcome that if they want any chance of winning in November.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.