In Trump's shadow, Republican suburban slide shows little sign of slowing

By Joseph Ax

The last time Democrats controlled the government in Delaware County, a suburb of Philadelphia, the U.S. Civil War had just ended.

But on Tuesday, Democrats ended a century and a half of Republican dominance. In two other Philadelphia-area suburbs, they captured Chester County's board of commissioners for the first time in history and seized control of Bucks County's board of commissioners for the first time since the 1980s.

The Democratic gains in Pennsylvania, a state crucial to U.S. President Donald Trump's election in 2016, suggest Republicans have yet to staunch the bleeding in the suburbs, where voters have increasingly revolted against Trump's heated rhetoric.

The results should "scare" Republicans ahead of the November 2020 election, said Douglas Heye, a strategist who previously worked for the Republican National Committee.

"More and more data suggests we're seeing a flight away from Republicans in suburban areas," Heye said.

There were warning signs in other historically Republican strongholds as well.

In Kentucky, where Trump this week held a campaign rally to bolster Republican Governor Matt Bevin's reelection bid, a Democratic challenger scored an upset win driven in part by a strong performance in suburbs of northern Kentucky outside Cincinnati, Ohio.

In Virginia, Democrats captured total control of state government for the first time in a generation, flipping both chambers of the legislature on the strength of wins in the rapidly growing and diversifying suburbs of northern Virginia and the capital of Richmond.

Many vulnerable Virginia Republicans sought to keep the campaign focused on local issues. Trump notably did not campaign in the state down the stretch, even as he sought to flex his political muscle in Kentucky and Mississippi.

The election results underscore the challenge Republicans in swing areas face when Trump seeks re-election in 2020, including U.S. senators Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Martha McSally of Arizona: embrace Trump and risk alienating suburban voters, especially women, or keep your distance and risk losing Trump diehards.

"That's the question every Republican up for reelection is asking themselves: how do you overperform Trump in suburban areas without hurting yourself with the base voters you absolutely need?" said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who worked on Senator Marco Rubio's presidential campaign.

Collins dismissed reading too much into the local elections, noting Republicans did well in other Kentucky races, including wresting the attorney general office from Democrats.

"I think this was an example of a very unpopular incumbent governor," she said in an interview in Washington on Wednesday.


Democrats may have their own lessons from Tuesday's elections. In Kentucky, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear emphasized so-called "kitchen table issues" such as healthcare and education instead of Trump during the campaign.

That playbook was successfully employed by dozens of Democratic congressional candidates in swing districts last year, when the party seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the 2020 presidential race, Democrats are grappling with whether a moderate such as former Vice President Joe Biden or a liberal such as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren would be best suited to defeat Trump.

"One of the reasons Democrats have overperformed in swing districts in the last two years is that they've nominated a lot of moderates," Conant said, adding that Republicans would likely claw back some suburban losses if Warren were at the top of the Democratic ticket in 2020.

It remains difficult to determine how the House impeachment inquiry is affecting voter choices. Bevin, the Kentucky governor, sought to capitalize on Republican anger over the issue, using impeachment in his advertising and defending Trump. It was not enough to win.

Republicans noted that Bevin was deeply unpopular after battling schoolteachers and unions.

Bevin, who trails by just over 5,000 votes, refused to concede the race, citing reports of unspecified"irregularities." On Wednesday he filed for a recanvass, which is a review of vote totals from each county to ensure the correct figures were transmitted to the state elections board.

Tuesday's outcomes also did little to suggest that Democrats have arrested their own slide during the Trump era in rural areas and small towns, according to Kyle Kondik, an elections analyst at the University of Virginia. Republicans made gains in local races in western Pennsylvania and in southern New Jersey.

"There are countervailing trends that may cancel each other out," Kondik said. "I think the suburban problems for Republicans are very real, but I think the small city and rural problems for Democrats are also real."

© Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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It has been the case for at least 30 years that those with higher levels of education have been rejecting the Republican Party. A recent PEW poll found that only 6% of American engineers and scientists identified as Republican. What does it say about America that the educated reject Trump's party?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Bevin was the same horrible person when he won as he is yesterday when he lost despite the

full court press by Trump to save him. Good riddance. And you know who is equally unpopular

in Kentucky, Senator Mitch. He is next to be retired by the long suffering voters in Kentucky that

have endured the turkey neck. Moscow Mitch as he is known lately for taking so much Russian


2 ( +2 / -0 )

A recent PEW poll found that only 6% of American engineers and scientists identified as Republican. What does it say about America that the educated reject Trump's party?

I love the poorly educated” - Donald J Trump 23/02/2016

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"Here's the story," Trump told thousand of supporters ahead of Tuesday's election. "If you win, they are going to make it like, ho hum. And if you lose, they are going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. You can't let that happen to me!

It happened to YOU - Moron!

And it's going to keep on happening - that is until you're impeached and perp-walked over to the SDNY Attorney to stand trial as a co-conspirator in the illegal Stormy payoff.

You're a LOSER Donnie...

Start praticing your 4D (Dimwit) chess - you, Manafort, Flynn, and Stone can enjoy a game in the Rikers Island Rec Area...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In the 2020 presidential race, Democrats are grappling with whether a moderate such as former Vice President Joe Biden or a liberal such as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren would be best suited to defeat Trump.

Good grief. Buttigieg would have a better chance. Gabbard is their strongest candidate but they're too dumb to nominate her. The Democratic primary campaign is simply to see who is going to lose to Trump next Nov.

Start praticing your 4D (Dimwit) chess

He doesn't need any practice. Meanwhile the Dems continue to play checkers. Heh.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Reason for impeachment: Doing his job. Brilliant, Dems.

The Dems should drop this ridiculous impeachment BS and start focusing on they're going to do about his next inevitable 4 years. Maybe actually work with him to benefit the American people. Gonna have to get vote out people like Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Chuck Schumer, Maxine Waters and AOC.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Reason for impeachment

The reason, is treason.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The reason, is treason.

Hyperbolic, but I like it!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Reason for impeachment: Doing his job.

No, getting dirt on Biden isn’t his job.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Reason for impeachment

The reason, is treason.

You have no evidence that he did anything that amounts to treason.

But the actions of those instigating this latest witch hunt in yet another desperate attempt to take down the president simply because they hate him for beating Clinton in 2016 is evidence of treason.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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