Battleground Bulletin: Donald Trump’s suburban scare tactics are working — but not how he intended.
Donald Trump’s suburban scare tactics are working — but not how he intended.
The president’s racist record and rhetoric is scaring suburban voters away from his campaign.
It’s no secret that Donald Trump is a racist. From the moment he rode down his golden escalator at Trump Tower and announced his candidacy, hate and division have served as the driving force of his campaign and administration.
But now, as his disastrous mishandling of our country’s multiple concurrent crises have tanked his poll numbers and imperiled his reelection prospects, Trump is cranking the racism dial all the way to 11 in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to save his presidency.
Whether he’s running false ads claiming Joe Biden will allow marauding mobs to attack little old ladies, tweeting out mug shots of Black people, repeatedly trafficking in baseless racist “birther” conspiracy theories, or spreading lies about how low-income housing will lead to an “invasion” of neighborhoods that will put “the suburban housewife” at risk, Trump’s strategic objective is clear: demonize people of color in an attempt to scare white voters in the suburbs into voting for him.
But in his frenzied retreat even deeper into his racist comfort zone, Trump appears to have overlooked a few key factors that could fast-track his failing campaign’s path to defeat.
American suburbs have been rapidly diversifying for years.
Trump is clearly operating on a 1950s caricature of the suburbs and America that is based on his own sexist and racist worldview. In his mind, suburban neighborhoods are populated nearly entirely by affluent white people who, like Trump himself, feel intense antipathy toward people of color.
And that picture the president has in his head may have been accurate at one point, but suburban demographics have shifted significantly in the intervening decades. As Bloomberg pointed out:
“Today’s suburbs no longer look much like the lily-white places portrayed on 1950s and 1960s sitcoms. Whites comprised less than ten percent of growth of the suburban population in America’s 100 largest metros between the years 2000 and 2010. This all adds up to a thorough transformation of suburbia. No longer are the suburbs homogenous bedroom communities; they are far more demographically diverse.”
So Trump’s conception of the suburban voter is massively out of date. The suburbs of 2020 are increasingly diverse and more integrated than those of past decades. All in all, roughly one-third of all suburban residents are now non-white, according to a Pew Research analysis of U.S. Census data. And even the white suburbanites he’s so intent on rattling with his racist scare tactics are likely to have been living and working side-by-side with Black and brown neighbors for quite some time now. That reality simply doesn’t match Trump’s rhetoric.
Suburban voters have rejected Trump’s toxic blend of racism and incompetence.
After breaking strongly toward Democrats in the 2018 midterms, suburban voters have continued their widespread rejection of Trump and his Republican allies — and the president’s racism is a big reason why.
Just in the past few days, two separate national polls found Trump deep underwater with these crucial voters. Both Georgetown University’s bipartisan Battleground Poll and a nonpartisan Morning Consult survey show the president’s approval rating sitting in the sub-40 percent range in the suburbs — at 35% and 39%, respectively. And those meager ratings held consistent among white suburban voters.
Suburbanites just don’t like the Trump-Pence ticket, that much is clear. (Georgetown found both men’s personal favorability ratings more than 20 points in the red.) But what is driving that disapproval? And do Trump’s racist attacks have any chance of turning things around?
The short answer is a resounding no. The Georgetown poll asked voters about their approval of Trump’s performance on a slate of issues — from his handling of the coronavirus and the economic recovery to health care and taxes. On every issue tested, suburban voters held a negative view of the president’s performance, nearly all by large, double-digit margins.
But even in that dismal picture, one issue stands out: Two-thirds of suburban voters disapprove of Trump’s handling of the recent protests and race relations in America. He’s 37 points underwater, far worse than his standing on any other issue.
Make no mistake: Suburban voters have rejected Donald Trump’s failed leadership on every possible issue — but nothing is driving their repudiation of this administration more than his abysmal record on race.
Trump’s racism isn’t a solution to his political problems in the suburbs. It’s a huge part of the problem itself.
Suburban voters are embracing the Biden-Harris ticket.
Suburban voters are more than ready for change — and they see that change in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
While Trump and Pence are deeply disliked, both Biden and Harris enjoy robust popularity in the suburbs, according to Georgetown’s Battleground Poll. Biden leads the way with 58% viewing him favorably, compared to only 37% who view him unfavorably. Similarly, Harris also shines despite being less well known overall, with 48% viewing her favorably and only 35% unfavorably. (The survey was taken prior to Harris’ selection to the ticket, which appears to have produced an uptick in her favorability in post-announcement polls.)
At the same time, suburbanites are much more confident in Biden’s ability to handle the most pressing issues facing the country, preferring his leadership to Trump’s by double-digit margins on every issue tested. But once again, voters’ preferences around the handling of race relations continue to stand out, with two-thirds of suburban voters saying they have more confidence in Biden’s ability to handle race relations in America than Trump — including 64% of white men and 61% of white women.
Unsurprisingly, that wide gulf in popularity and trust on the issues translates to a significant Biden lead in the horse race. Georgetown finds the Vice President leading Trump among all suburban voters by a massive 26-point margin, 59% to 33%. Among white suburbanites, Biden leads by 20 points with women and 13 points with men. While other recent polls have produced somewhat closer margins — Pew Research pegged Biden’s suburban lead at 10 points, while Morning Consult found him ahead by 9 — the overall takeaway is clear: Joe Biden is dramatically outpacing Trump among suburban voters, a group that the president won by 5 points over Hillary Clinton just four years ago.
Turns out Donald Trump is scaring suburbanites with his racist tactics, after all. He’s just scaring them away from his own campaign — and directly into the Biden-Harris column.
Donald Trump is flailing — and on defense.
Donald Trump continues alarming attack after alarming attack on the Postal Service and vote by mail, all while having assured voters in Florida that vote by mail is actually secure. It’s clear Trump can’t stick to a reason for voters to rehire him for a second term, so he resorts to lies and confusion. As usual, Donald Trump is putting himself, and his political future, above everything else. His advantage in Florida has all but slipped away — and it shows in his spending.
The Trump campaign’s spending reflects their desperation to shore up their dwindling base. In the last month, Trump spent more money in Ohio and Georgia than he did in Wisconsin and Michigan. Meanwhile, Priorities USA Action continues to spend well over a million dollars a week on TV and digital advertising in key battleground states. Priorities spent over $500,000 on TV and digital advertising in Michigan and Wisconsin in the last week alone.
Pro-Biden entities are outspending Pro-Trump forces in almost every key battleground state:
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