In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update -- recently published -- looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm. Suburbs are an important part of the story.
Your average suburban voter has clearly soured on President Trump. But the definition of “average suburban voter” has changed over the last two decades, as the suburbs swelled. Much of that population growth has been driven by immigrants and lower-income migrants from nearby cities.
The electoral flipping of the suburbs has been particularly dramatic in Southern California’s inland regions.
The most dramatic example: California’s 60th Assembly district, centered around the City of Corona in the western Inland Empire. When Republican Eric Linder won the seat six years ago by 23 percentage points, Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 5 points.
But in 2016, the district swung. Democrats now topped Republicans — and voters replaced Linder with the current Democratic Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes. At last count, district Democrats hold at 11 percentage point lead over Republicans.
The trend away from the GOP may have been supercharged by the state’s housing crunch as younger people, renters, Black and brown Californians — in other words, the Democratic Party’s base — have fled inland seeking cheaper shelter.
Republican lawmakers and strategists in Ohio say they are seeing research that shows a near-uniform drop in support from his 2016 totals across every suburban region of the state.
They say that Trump, who won Ohio by 8 percentage points in 2016, maintains a yawning advantage in more rural areas and small towns. Still, Republicans are concerned that if he is losing badly in suburban areas in Ohio, it is a signal that Trump’s hold on other states in the industrial heartland that delivered him the presidency may be in peril.
“The million-dollar question becomes, how does that translate in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania?” said Corry Bliss, a Republican strategist who managed Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s 2016 reelection campaign. “It translates into probably not a very good night.”
Ohio has long been a bellwether. No Republican has won the White House without carrying the state since the advent of the modern two-party system, and no Democrat has since 1960.
Trump is faring worse than four years ago in communities in essentially all suburban areas around Ohio, from its major cities to its several mid-size metro areas, more than a half-dozen Republican operatives tracking races across Ohio say.
Trump has slipped in suburbs to the east and west of Cleveland, where he narrowly edged Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, they say. In the blue-collar suburbs of Youngstown, where Trump won by double digits, the same appears to be true.
In affluent suburbs, such as Dublin northwest of Columbus, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney won by almost 20 percentage points. Four years later, Trump narrowly lost to Clinton. Less than two months before the 2020 election, Republicans were concerned about signs the trend in Dublin has continued, according to several GOP operatives following legislative and congressional races.