Last updated on August 27, 2020
At some point someone must have told Donald Trump that he needs suburban women to win reelection — and that he’s losing them, badly.
If there was one big takeaway from last night’s
Kimberly Guilfoyle Ba’al summoning convention speeches, it’s that the suburbs will be abolished in Joe Biden’s America and anarchy will reign. How is this possible when the suburbs were conspicuously not burned to the ground during the eight years Biden served as vice president? Well, apparently the radicals have Biden tied up in his basement on a sodium pentothal IV drip. Lower-income people are coming, suburbanites! Is that a Mercedes C-class I see cruising down the boulevard like it somehow belongs there? Hie thee to thine fainting couch.
Oh, and center-left Joe Biden is going to leap right over Scandinavian-style social democracy and throw his lot in with Venezuala-style socialism. Because, well, Donald Trump and his cockeyed cabal say so.
As exasperating and Dadaistic as last night’s banshee-screech-fest may have seemed, you’ll be heartened to know that this message is apparently falling on deaf ears.
Politico senior staff writer Michael Kruse actually ventured into suburbia (Mark and Patricia McCloskey were at the convention, so he breezed right through the checkpoints), and he found lots of suburban women who seemed remarkably unconcerned about the hordes of anarchists and rioters Sherman-marching their way into their hitherto impregnable sylvan redoubts.
Specifically, Kruse visited Cornelius, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte — and just the kind of place that Trump needs in his column in order to secure reelection.
The suburbs, like this one, just up Interstate 77 from the official site of the start of this week’s Republican National Convention, make up the terrain on which the coming election almost certainly will be decided. The suburbs almost always are a political battlefield, or at least have been for the last generation or more. And if Trump can’t win or even loses a sufficient slice of his support in Cornelius, one of the whitest and most reliably Republican of the key suburbs in this critical swing state, he probably can’t win North Carolina, according to pollsters and strategists. And if he can’t win North Carolina, they say, he probably can’t win reelection. Hence the message he’s been delivering with increasing frequency and ferocity of late, appealing to the “Suburban Housewives of America,” charging that Joe Biden wants to “destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream,” and stressing that residents of American suburbia want “security” and not “low-income housing” forced “down their throats.”
Unfortunately for Trump, his transparent tactics are increasingly landing with a thud. Fear is a huge motivating factor in any election, but if Kruse’s reportage gives us any indication, these people are simply not afraid. Of course, that’s terrible news for Trump — and great news for anyone who wants the U.S. survive for another four years.
The response I got from actual suburban women here on Monday, though, was a mixture of eye-rolls, laughter and confusion. “It’s not something I’m afraid of,” said Connie Searle, 61, retired from a human resources job at a bank.
“I haven’t heard anyone voice concerns about being afraid that angry mobs are going to come out this way,” said Sue Rankin-White, 72, who worked for the Department of Education in Washington and lived in northern Virginia before moving here.
Afraid of the city? “I’m here because of its proximity to Charlotte,” said Camerin Allgood McKinnon, 36, a mother of two who teaches dance.
Well, maybe they didn’t absorb the message. Maybe Republicans should turn up the volume on Kimberly Guilfoyle and send her back out there.
Of course, it’s not just anecdotes like these that Republicans need to be concerned about. As Kruse notes, John McCain won the four Cornelius precincts by 2,663 votes in 2008, Romney won them by 4,043 votes in 2012, and Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 2,984 votes in the last election. But in the 2018 midterms, the mood suddenly shifted.
The last midterms, though, ushered in a hard-to-ignore change, a byproduct of court-ordered redrawing of districts but also the shifting demographics and political preferences of the many newcomers. Going into the 2018 election, people here were represented in the state house, the state senate and the county commission by three Republican men. After? Three Democratic women.
Meanwhile, Republicans increasingly appear to be talking to themselves as their echo chambers morph into panic rooms and survival bunkers.
“I think the suburbs are going to be really, really blue,” Morgan Jackson, a Democratic strategist based in Raleigh, told me. “They were growing more Democratic based on urbanization, period; in the age of Trump, that’s been on steroids.”
And the arguments he’s making to suburban women? “These protesters and rioters are going to come into the suburbs?” Jackson said. “He’s having a conversation that frankly only exists on Fox News. It doesn’t exist in any neighborhood in the suburbs.”
“It’s appealing to June Cleaver,” said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at nearby Catawba College, “when June Cleaver’s dead.”
Fittingly, so is Eddie Haskell — but Donald Trump Jr. and the rest of the grifters are still doing his shtick.
Will it work?
Doesn’t look that way. No matter how loudly they scream bloody murder.
“This guy is a natural. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry.” — Bette Midler on Aldous J. Pennyfarthing, via Twitter. Find out what made dear Bette break up. Dear Fcking Lunatic: 101 Obscenely Rude Letters to Donald Trump and its boffo sequels Dear Prsident A**clown: 101 More Rude Letters to Donald Trump and Dear F*cking Moron: 101 More Letters to Donald Trump by Aldous J. Pennyfarthing are now available for a song! Click those links, yo!
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