The audience at the second presidential debate was selected by polling firm Gallup, and according to the organization, all of the attendees were undecided when they entered the debate. It's also true that, as the debate began, Trump had positively hideous favorability ratings with women. Those two facts collided on Sunday, when Trump referred to Clinton as "the devil" at the debate, and the camera happened to catch one of the female audience members' facial reaction. And that reaction more or less sums up Trump's toxic relationship with female voters in this election.
"And all you have to do is take a look at WikiLeaks and just see what they said about Bernie Sanders and see what Deborah Wasserman Schultz had in mind ... he never had a chance," Trump said. "I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil."
By "see him sign on with the devil," Trump was referring to Sanders' decision to endorse Clinton after he lost the primary. The main point, though, is that Trump referred to Clinton as Satan incarnate. One of the ostensibly undecided female voters in the audience reacted visibly to this, and her reaction inadvertently encapsulates why Trump has not been able to win over female voters.
Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that there are still some undecided voters in the country — I'm personally skeptical of this, but the polls do show that around 6 percent of voters haven't yet made up their minds. Incidentally, Trump trails Clinton by around six points, according to The Huffington Post's polling average, and so Trump — in theory, and perhaps only in theory — could close the gap with Clinton if he won over all of those undecided voters.
That would be a tall order, of course, and Clinton could still win even if Trump did win over all of the undecideds. But if any of those undecided voters are women, Trump isn't going to win them over, and he isn't going to close the gap with Clinton. This is because Trump, through his own words and actions, chronically alienates and offends female voters. Just as importantly, he hasn't balanced this out with a positive message to women, nor is it clear that he's even tried.
But you don't have to take my word for it. At the beginning of April, when the primaries hadn't yet concluded, 70 percent of women viewed Trump negatively, which is a staggeringly low share of support for any candidate to have with any demographic. At the end of August, after two party conventions and months of campaigning, that number hadn't budged a single point: 70 percent of women still viewed Trump negatively.
This isn't a result of the mainstream media twisting Trump's words, or the Clinton campaign unfairly smearing him. It's the result of Trump, and his own long, long, long history of misogyny and sexism. His recently-unearthed comments from 2005, wherein he bragged about being able to commit sexual assault with impunity, are only the most notable and recent example.
At the debate, Trump called Clinton the devil, leered behind her like a stalker as she spoke, said that she has "tremendous hate in her heart" and pledged to put her in prison if he's elected. And guess what? None of this helped improve his image among female voters: A post-debate poll showed that women thought Clinton won the debate by a 12-point margin.
Trump is an obvious sexist. He says and does sexist things on the regular and has been doing so for the last several decades. As a result, the vast majority of female voters dislike him, and this is a big reason why he's on track to lose this election.