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New poll shows suburban voters are turning their backs on Trump

In 2016, 49 percent of suburban voters went for Trump. Now, 56 percent say they'd vote for a Democrat if the election were held today.

A NEW POLL REVEALS THAT SUBURBAN VOTERS MAY BE TURNING THEIR BACK ON PRESIDENT TRUMP THIS FALL. CREDIT: WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES
A NEW POLL REVEALS THAT SUBURBAN VOTERS MAY BE TURNING THEIR BACK ON PRESIDENT TRUMP THIS FALL. CREDIT: WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES

If congressional elections were held today, 61 percent of women in small cities and suburban areas say they would vote for a Democrat compared to 26 percent who say they would vote for a Republican, according to a new NPR/Marist poll released Wednesday.

Among all suburban voters, 56 percent said they would vote for a Democrat compared to 34 percent who said they would vote for a Republican.

The poll is a startling swing from the 2016 election, when 49 percent of suburban voters voted for President Trump and 45 percent voted for former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Earlier this year, Republican pollster Jon McHenry told NPR that a lot of talk about suburban voters originated in the 1990s, when “suburban voter” essentially meant the family values Republican right.

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“But now in the Trump era, we’re talking about college-educated whites who have substantial incomes who aren’t locked-down Republican voters anymore,” McHenry said. “Do those white affluent suburban voters say, ‘I’m going to do fine whether there’s a Democratic Congress or a Republican Congress, and I’m going to cast my vote on sort of the tone of Washington — not necessarily religious values or moral values, but civic values’?”

If that is the case, McHenry told NPR, Republicans could be in trouble this fall, because moderate and independent suburban voters might be turned off by Trump’s tweets and “course language.”

Wednesday’s poll reveals that may in fact be the case.

Among self-identified Independents, the poll also found that, if congressional elections were held today, 43 percent said they would vote for a Democrat, and 36 percent said they would vote for a Republican. Among all voters, the poll found Democrats currently hold a 10 point lead over Republicans.

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Two other polls released Wednesday also spelled good news for Democrats, as Vox noted. A Quinnipiac poll found that 52 percent of registered voters prefer the Democratic candidate in their district, compared to 38 percent who prefer the Republican candidate, and a Morning Consult poll also released Wednesday found Democrats with a 10 point advantage over Republicans.

Of course, polling is not destiny, as everyone who lived through 2016 can attest, and the 2018 primary season has already been littered with more examples. In Florida’s recent Democratic gubernatorial primary, most polls had progressive Andrew Gillum third or fourth in the field. He won by three.

In Massachusetts, another progressive candidate, Ayanna Pressley was trailing by 13 points, according a WBUR poll. She ultimately trounced incumbent Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA), winning by 17 points. Similarly, in Rep. Joe Crowley’s (D-NY) district, polling had Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez behind by more than 30 points. She won by 15.

While these progressive upsets certainly reveal how off-base polling can still be, they also reveal just how activated the progressive left has been throughout the primary season.

“I don’t think that swing voters decide based on how much a candidate has run to the middle the most,” Ocasio-Cortez said last month. “I know people who are swing voters, and when I think about how they decide, they don’t say, ‘Oh I’m voting for this person because they became the most Republican out of the whole race to earn my vote’ … Expanding the electorate is the path.”