This is one of the groups he desperately needs to win back to close the gap with Biden. He’s holding his own with men in the suburbs according to a recent ABC poll, leading the Democrat by four among that group.
The cohort that’s killing him is suburban women. Among them he trails by — deep breath — 36.
What can he do that might undo three years of self-inflicted political damage? Suburbanites were already trending sufficiently blue in 2018 that they ended up handing the House to Nancy Pelosi that fall. Another suburban-fueled bloodbath in November might deliver total Democratic control of government.
One thing he might do is, ah, stop assuming that women who live in the suburbs are “housewives”:
Another thing he might do is promise them that, in so many words, he’ll keep the poors out:
Many a commentator on political Twitter this morning read that as barely veiled code for him promising to keep the blacks out, specifically:
A statement like this reflects a certain view of both suburbs and race that would have been current in, say, 1955, although there is no reason to doubt some people still hold it today. https://t.co/ZQXEHNL6XW
— Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep) July 29, 2020
I rarely bother with Trump tweets because it lowers my quality of life but holy crap he's just straight up unabashedly bigoted here. Not even the slightest pretense. https://t.co/4TRlMLORUR
— Jeff B., who on earth is this guy?? (@EsotericCD) July 29, 2020
Pushback on that was of the “you’re the real racist” variety: He didn’t say anything about race, it’s you that’s assuming ‘low income’ means ‘black.'” Okay, but the rule on low-income housing that Trump’s HUD is rescinding is a desegregation measure. It was promulgated under the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which was designed to end racial discrimination in housing. Obama’s HUD issued the rule in 2015 for the purpose of encouraging further racial integration of neighborhoods. And there are in fact racial disparities among Americans who live in “extremely low-income housing”: “Twenty percent of black households, 18% of American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) households, and 16% of Hispanic households are extremely low-income renters. Six percent of white non-Hispanic households are extremely low-income renters.”
Why, even Trump properties have been sued by Republican-run Justice Departments for alleged racial discrimination in their housing practices.
But certainly, plenty of downscale whites qualify as low-income as well. That’s the irony of Trump’s position. He’s supposed to be a populist, the candidate of the so-called forgotten man, the champion of whites without a college degree. Lots of those voters would appreciate a shot at living some scaled-down version of the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream” too, I’m sure, if only to qualify their kids to attend higher-quality public schools than they might otherwise have access to. For the president, though, it’s an easy call: The poors will be there for him on Election Day no matter what whereas the suburbanites might not be if he doesn’t give them something. So the poors are SOL.
How this policy will play with actual suburbanites is anyone’s guess. His bottom-line reasoning on crime and property values will resonate with some. But various media types have made the point today that America’s suburbs are no longer the lily-white fortresses they used to be, in which case the prospect of greater racial — and class? — diversity won’t be quite the shock that it once was. Others have noted that suburbanites are more likely to be college-educated and people who are college-educated tend to be more liberal in their racial views, which means those who view this as a coded racial pitch might end up recoiling further from the president.
There’s also a question of how high of a priority this is for the average suburban voter right now relative to other concerns. What do you do if you share Trump’s belief that lower-income people have no business despoiling the grandeur of an American suburban with their presence but you also think that his COVID response has been a disaster and you’re terrified that his school-reopening policy will be a disaster too? If your choice is between new Section 8 housing appearing in your zip code and a less dysfunctional federal government or a community free of poors and the president touting medical advice from people who believe that demon sperm causes illness, what do you do there?
Here he is making his case earlier this afternoon.
TRUMP: “By the way, I just ended the rule on suburbs. You know, the suburbs. People fight all of their lives to get into the suburbs and have a beautiful home. There will be no more low-income housing forced into the suburbs … so enjoy your life, ladies and gentlemen.” pic.twitter.com/nCJvKhHTYD
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 29, 2020