Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Democratic Suburban Turnout During Primaries Should Set Off GOP Alarm Bells

With former Vice President Joe Biden clearing the field and running up impressive wins over his remaining rival Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, it appears that President Donald Trump will get be getting the opponent he feared the most. 

Officially, Trump campaign officials say otherwise.  They point to supposed flaws with the likely Democratic nominee - Biden's mental decline, his constant gaffes, and the fact his son, Hunter, pretty clearly traded in on the Biden name and position to make money.  Of course, to raise those issues about
Biden is to overlook Trump's own apparent mental decline, his constant gaffes (not to mention his daily lies), and that three of Trump's four adult children (Don, Jr., Ivanka and Eric) appear to have no actual skills except cashing in on the Trump name.  Sure the aforementioned attacks on Biden would be rife with hypocrisy, but when has hypocrisy ever derailed a Trump attack on an opponent?

There are real reasons to fear Biden as an opponent.  Unlike the last Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, Biden has an appeal to white working class men and women, many of whom live in rust belt, swing states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  In 2016, Hillary received tepid support from African-Americans, many of whom decided to stay home on Election Day.  Biden though has enthusiastic support from black voters. 

Trump's Electoral College win in 2016 was razor thin.  If just 39,000 votes in three states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, had flipped Hillary Clinton would have been president.  Thus, if Biden does slightly better than Hillary in reaching out to blue collar white voters and encouraging African-Americans to vote, that will tip the balance to the Democrats.  After all, it is not like Trump has expanded the narrow political coalition he won with in 2016.  Add to that the fact that, since his support skews older, many 2016 Trump voters will have passed away before being able to cast a vote in 2020.    It does not take much to wipe out 78,000 votes.

The 2020 Democratic primaries though reveal that the GOP has a much, much bigger problem.  Turnout for Democrats has been through the roof in the primaries.  The new Democratic voters Sanders promised would come to the polls have indeed to the vote for Biden.  While the increased turnout reveals an enthusiasm which would be bad enough news for Republicans, the big problem for the GOP is where that increased Democratic turnout is taking place - the suburbs.

Suburban voters turned out in the 2018 general election to vote against Trump and for Democratic candidates for Congress. The result was an historic 41 seat gain by Democrats in the House.   Now those former Republican leaning suburban voters are participating in Democratic primaries.  That means those suburbanites are dead set on voting against Trump in 2020. 

That would be a major change.  Although Trump lost some GOP support in the suburbs in 2016, the Republican voter defections were at the margins.  But President Trump has proven to be much less popular in the suburbs than Candidate Trump.  In every special election since 2016 and the 2018 mid-terms, Republican-leaning suburban voters have been casting ballots for Democrats.

The 2020 Democratic primaries show the trend of suburbanites fleeing the GOP will not only continue, it will exacerbate.

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