If the White House were a high 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 out 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 did not earn. 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 gives her good 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 ages of 18 and 35, only 18% said they view her favorably, while 46% said they view her unfavorably. The remaining 36% are undecided.
Among Republicans 18% had an unfavorable view of the first daughter and senior advisor, while another 44% said they had a favorable view. (The remaining 38% were undecided.) Among Democrats, 73% dislike the first daughter, while only 5% held a favorable view. (Independents views fell in line with the general crowd — 18% favorable, 43% unfavorable 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 favorable 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 her father 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 a conduit for women to overlook his pussy-grabbing ways. Since in 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.
According to the Refinery29/CBS New poll, six in 10 millennial women said they didn’t think she had much of an influence on the president, 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 favorable opinions, while 15% of unmarried women felt the same. Among parents of children under 18, 25% said they like her and 13% do not. Students, meanwhile, have a particularly bleak view of Ivanka, with only 10% saying they have a favorable 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 anybody’s guess. But one thing’s for sure: Trotting out Ivanka Trump in an effort to appeal to women isn’t a sure bet. In these polarized times, perhaps the safest strategy is to pick a side and stick to it.
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