Here's why Trump won't let that Miss Universe thing go

A supporter of Donald Trump takes a selfie with the Republican presidential candidate at a rally in front of the USS Wisconsin on October 31, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia.
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A supporter of Donald Trump takes a selfie with the Republican presidential candidate at a rally in front of the USS Wisconsin on October 31, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Okay, let's cut through the sanctimony and the phoniness for a second and talk about how most people, especially most male people, talk about beauty queens. Would you say their words are respectful, politically correct, and family friendly?

And what about Bill Clinton? Would you say that most people are able to talk about him for more than five minutes without mentioning his history of sexual affairs? Yeah, not so much.

Think about that before you join the chorus of Donald Trump detractors and even supporters who seem to be 100 percent sure Trump is dangerously getting off message by responding to Hillary Clinton's attacks connected to former Miss Universe Alicia Machado or threatening to bring up the many accusations of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton by women Hillary subsequently trashed. As much as his comments about Machado are turning off female voters, and as much as his toying with the decision to bring up Bill's affairs seem off-topic to many others, these comments are likely helping Trump continue to connect and possibly even fire up male voters.

And it's male voters who have been underrepresented at the ballot box over the past few decades. In fact, the gap between female and male voter turnout has been widening. In 2008 and 2012, the number of women who came out to vote outpaced men by four percentage points after the gap had been mostly two percentage points for almost every other election before that for decades. This really translates into total voters, as women made up 53 percent of the total voter base in 2012 and men haven't been the bulk of the voters in any presidential election in 36 years. This is eerily similar to the shrinking white vote in America that Trump has tapped into.

To put it simply, a lot of men are staying home. One reason could be that the candidates for president from both parties have seemed to be a lot more interested in wooing female voters for a long time. Even in 2004, when much of the George W. Bush re-election campaign was based on supporting the war on terror and in Iraq, the campaign directed much of those efforts at so-called "security moms" as opposed to a uniformly hawkish and pro-military approach.

And remember that famous interview with Oprah Winfrey when Bush and his wife Laura made the strong effort to win over women voters by recounting the story of how Laura straightened him out when she told him he'd have to "choose between her and Jack Daniels? For every woman hoping to change their man for the better, and there are millions of them, that interview was pure gold.

And most candidates from both parties continue to spend a lot of time talking about parenting issues solely from the women's perspective. And then you have the issue of sexism, and the way Republicans always seem to be on the defensive on that issue. Remember poor Mitt Romney's "binders full of women?" It's not that men consider beauty pageant queens to be a serious issue, no one should. But Trump is at least talking like men do about them. Which is a start. Romney never talked like a "regular guy," and look where that got him.

So many times in this election season, Trump has decided to blow up the GOP's flailing and failing attempts to woo new demographic groups. He did it on day one with his comments about illegal Mexican immigrants. He doubled down on it with his talk about blocking Muslims from the country. And he's doing it again by refusing to back down on his criticisms of a former beauty queen, when women of all political persuasions have shown they really don't like thinking about beauty pageants and the women who compete in them at all. Those women are already voting for Clinton and were never likely to come over to Trump's side. His only response, and perhaps any Republicans only response, is to lure more non-voting males to come back to the polls and vote for him.

The strategy takes a bit of a different turn when it comes to Bill Clinton's affairs and Hillary Clinton's response to them. While the news media and the Clinton campaign seek to milk every ounce out of Trump's comments about Machado and women in general, the stage is set for Trump to come down hard on the nasty things Hillary Clinton said about the many women who have accused and continue to accuse Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.

None of that was really fair game in this election until now, thanks to the fact that the Clinton campaign has decided to make attitudes and comments about women an issue. And Bill Clinton's dalliances are very much a part of the typical American male vernacular these days. Just look at former Secretary of State Colin Powell's hacked email comments about the former president.

To be clear, Trump's seeming obsession and 3 am tweeting about Machado aren't going to be super vote-grabbing strategies even among male voters. But they're not the disaster so many experts seem to think they are. Sociologists and honest campaign experts will tell you that you win over voters more by the way you talk than what you say when you talk. Trump's rambling style has helped him win over the elderly vote and that's a major positive because the elderly have the best turnout rate of any American demographic group. Now, he's trying to win over and fire up the under performing male vote the same way.

It's just another example of how what looks like a fatal Trump mistake or utter randomness really isn't that much of a hindrance. And it could even turn out to be a major plus.

Commentary by Jake Novak, senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

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