NEW YORK • Real estate billionaire Donald Trump's coarse rhetoric has won him some fans, but there's at least one large group in America that is increasingly unimpressed: women.
Half of US women say they have a "very unfavourable" view of the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, up from the 40 per cent who felt that way in October. The survey was taken from March 1 to 15, and included 5,400 respondents.
The rise in anti-Trump sentiment among women could pose a problem for the New York billionaire in his quest for the White House. Women form just over half of the US population, and they have turned out at higher rates than men in every election since 1996, according to the US Census Bureau.
"If the presidential election were tomorrow, women would be a big problem for Trump," Republican strategist David Carney said. "But he has time to fix it."
A Trump campaign official did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the candidate has said that he has had good relationships with women in his business career and is well-liked by women voters.
Several women who oppose Mr Trump said this week their disapproval was based on a range of factors from his disparaging comments about women he dislikes - such as Fox News host Megyn Kelly - to his hard-line views on immigration and his ribald exchanges with rivals.
Mr Trump has not stopped taking aim at Kelly, taking time out of his schedule on Thursday to fire off three tweets about her.
First, he complained that she hosted his closest Republican rival, Mr Ted Cruz, whom he has nicknamed "lyin' Ted" on her prime-time Fox News show The Kelly File, the second-most watched programme in American cable news after that of fellow Fox anchor Bill O'Reilly. In the morning, he complained about an interview in which she said Mr O'Reilly could have done more to defend her against Mr Trump.
"Her bad show is a total hit piece on me. Tough!" he said. "Highly overrated & crazy @megynkelly is always complaining about Trump and yet she devotes her shows to me. Focus on others Megyn!" he went on to write at lunchtime.
Mr Trump regularly posts messages from others who denigrate Kelly.
He, however, does not appear to have a similar image problem with men. The Reuters/Ipsos poll results showed that just 36 per cent of men said they have a "very unfavourable" opinion of him, a level that has held steady in recent months.
If the Republican frontrunner were to run against Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton in the general election, likely women voters would support her over Mr Trump by nearly 14 percentage points, according to the March polling data. Among men, Mrs Clinton would win by about 5 percentage points.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE