Democrats Have a Problem: The Suburbs

'Electoral whiplash' of last week puts control of House in jeopardy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2021 11:30 AM CST
Democrats Have a Problem: The Suburbs
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have a hard time keeping her gavel after the midterms.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The post-mortems from last week's election continue to arrive, and they still point to big trouble for Democrats. Fresh evidence comes in a new poll showing President Biden's approval ratings tanking below 40%. The same survey, from USA Today and Suffolk University, found that respondents would vote for a Republican congressional candidate over a Democratic one by 46%-38% if the election were held today. What's going on? Some coverage:

  • Twin problems: A New York Times story focusing on Virginia reveals that Democrats got battered in rural areas where they thought they already had bottomed out during the Trump years. Virginia offered proof "it can get worse," writes Astead W. Herndon and Shane Goldmacher. Democrats also lost suburban voters who'd begun shifting their way of late. "The twin results raise a foreboding possibility for Democrats: that the party had simply leased the suburbs in the Trump era, while Republicans may have bought and now own even more of rural America," they write.

  • Those suburbs: As an analysis by Ally Mutnick and Elena Schneider at Politico points out, the Democrats' current House majority, as well as Biden's win, "was built in large part on suburban, college-educated voters who spurned" Trump. But the Virginia results suggest that support is soft. Former Democratic Rep. Steve Israel puts it this way: "If Democrats can't reclaim those suburban voters, I don't see a path to keeping the majority, plain and simple."
  • Context: The party in power traditionally loses ground in the midterms, notes Laura Figueroa Hernandez at Newsday. But Democrats, who've struggled to translate Biden's agenda into actual legislation they can brag about, may be headed for a worse-than-usual fate. "The suburbs giveth and the suburbs taketh away," says Lawrence Levy of Hofstra University. "The suburbs are the definition of a swing voting region, and last year, the suburbs took it away from Trump and many Republicans, and this year, they took it away from the Democrats. What was remarkable this time was how fast they turned. Talk about electoral whiplash."
  • More on that flip: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air also assesses the suburbs. "The losses in Virginia, but especially in New Jersey, show that the combination of economics and cultural sympathy can and will cause flips back to the GOP, especially in periods where Democrats have full control of Washington and seem to be doing nothing with it." From his conservative perspective, he adds: "Until Democrats cut themselves loose from radical Academia, they will continue to lose the suburbs, especially under the incompetent leadership of Joe Biden."
(More Democrats stories.)

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