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Suburban Republican Voters Decided the 2020 Election

Erik Sofranko

Posted on December 14, 2020 01:38

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Republican voters in the suburbs were the deciding factor in denying President Trump a second term but at the same time gave Republicans many surprising victories in the House and Senate.

President Trump won suburban voters by nearly four points in 2016 in his upset victory against Hillary Clinton. However, Trump was not able to match that support in 2020 as his deficit in the suburbs was nearly 10 points. Suburban Republican voters in the Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Phoenix metro areas did not give Trump the same amount of support as in 2016, which resulted in his losses in the key swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona. The states of Georgia and Arizona voted for the Democratic nominee for president for the first time since the Bill Clinton era. 

The main shift came among suburban Republican women who grew tired of what they viewed as an unconventional administration that had been unlike any in modern history. This resulted in many voting against Trump at the top of the ticket but then voting for the congressional Republican candidates down-ballot. Just as there were millions of Reagan Democrats in the 1980s, the effect of Biden Republicans is seen in the 2020 election but to a lesser extent. President-elect Biden's strategy from the beginning of the campaign was to win the support of enough Republicans to make the difference in key swing states. 

Campaign advisers for Republican candidates down-ballot knew that there was a probable chance that Trump would underperform among suburban Republicans. However, they also knew that these same suburban Republicans would still be voting for the Republican candidates in the House and Senate, which resulted in much better results for them than pollsters had predicted. This resulted in Republicans regaining many House seats in suburban districts that they had lost in the 2018 midterm election and also defending several Senate seats that were thought to be vulnerable. 

Dan Conston, president of the GOP outside group called the Congressional Leadership Fund, made the effort to reach suburban voters with the campaign message that was focused on public safety and the economy. The $140 million the group spent to get out this message clearly worked in the Republicans' favor. The state of Maine is an example of where this strategy was especially effective. Joe Biden outperformed the Democratic Senate candidate Sara Gideon by over 10 percentage points. Establishment Republican Senator Susan Collins won re-election in Maine by nearly 10 percentage points, when the average of polls showed her behind by four points. Her victory was propelled by split-ticket Republican and Democratic voters who voted for Joe Biden at the top of the ticket but also for Susan Collins in her Senate race.

This trend held true all throughout the country as Republicans down-ballot consistently out-performed President Trump. It is clear that the 2020 election was a repudiation of President Trump, but it was not a repudiation of conservatism. It is also evident that the United States is not a right-wing or a left-wing country but rather a centrist country that prefers political balance over one-party rule. 

Erik Sofranko

Posted on December 14, 2020 01:38

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Source: stltoday.com

Nationally, suburban voters drew away from Trump while standing by down-ballot Republicans.

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