This is a culmination of the strategy Trump brought to his adopted party: actively court the white working-class voter. These blue-collar conservatives had been skeptical of the plutocratic Mitt Romney and the conventional GOP agenda four years earlier, went the thinking, while a straight-talker with a populist agenda could add them to a successful Republican coalition. The new strategy still requires keeping the existing members of the coalition in the tent, however, especially the suburbanites.
But there’s a problem: These suburban voters are not Trump’s base. In many ways they are the segment of the party Trump’s candidacy was designed to ignore, downplay, or even antagonize. Republicans in these districts aren’t as alarmed by immigration. They prefer the benefits of global trade to the protections of tariffs. They bristle at Trump’s coarse style of politics that punches first and asks questions later. For these voters, civility and moral leadership are more than just niceties—they’re motivating issues. The message Trump and the GOP send, either incidentally or intentionally, is that these Americans matter less. Increasingly, they’re listening.