The path to the White House for Republican presidential candidates almost always goes through the suburbs.
Since 1972, every GOP candidate elected president has won the suburban vote, according to exit polling. That’s Richard Nixon in 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, George H.W. Bush in 1988, George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and, yes, Donald Trump in 2016. (Trump beat Hillary Clinton 49% to 45% among suburban voters.)
(Sidebar: Mitt Romney in 2012 was the only Republican presidential candidate to win the suburban vote – 50% to 48% over Barack Obama – and lose the election).
That correlation should be deeply concerning to not just Trump but any Republican on the ballot right about now.
Why? Because the revolt against Trump in the suburbs, which was at the center of Democrats’ retaking of the House majority in the 2018 midterms appears to be showing no signs of slowing.
Tweeted David Wasserman, the House editor at the Cook Political Report, a non-partisan campaign tipsheet:
“What should really frighten down-ballot Rs: Trump is trailing Biden by 7-9% more than he lost the popular vote in 2016, but because there are so many urban cores where Trump had little room to fall in the first place, the drop is likely even larger in swing suburban districts.”
What Wasserman means – in laymen’s terms – is this: Trump is behind Joe Biden by somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 points in most national polling. Which is a whole lot more than the 3-ish points he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton – even while winning the Electoral College (and the White House) in 2016.
And because Trump did all that while getting swamped in urban areas – Clinton beat him there by 26 points in 2016 – Wasserman’s contention (ands he’s right) is that the further decline in Trump’s standing in a general election ballot against Biden is almost certainly the result of losses in suburban areas.
A Trump collapse in the suburbs – losing them by 5 points or more – would not only almost certainly cost him the White House. It would also badly jeopardize any Republican in a suburban House district or a Senate seat in a state with a large suburban population.
The Point: Lose the suburbs and Trump loses the election. It’s that simple.