The GOP lost its House majority in 2018 after it fared poorly with suburban voters, particularly women. Party leaders are increasingly alarmed that they have made little progress winning them back. Instead, Trump’s incessant feuds, his hard-line position on immigration — including federal raids that left children without their parents — and the stock market’s tumult amid his trade standoff with China threaten to further alienate suburban voters ahead of the 2020 campaign, even in states that have traditionally elected Republicans.
Republican leaders also worry that Trump’s dramatic policy moves and Twitter outbursts — such as last month’s racist tweets about four minority women in Congress — could prod more suburban GOP lawmakers to head for the exits rather than mount a defense, following in the footsteps of several Texas Republicans and others who have decided not to seek reelection.
“There is so much angst with these retirements and there is so much hope that President Trump would just talk about the economy for three days straight,” said Scott W. Reed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s senior political strategist. And he warned that the Republican-controlled Senate could be at risk if the GOP does not make an “aggressive effort” to win the suburbs.
Democrats, meanwhile, are making inroads in places such as Atlanta’s northern suburbs, a longtime Republican enclave that once sent former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R) to Washington, by making targeted appeals on the economy, health care and gun control that address voters’ mounting fears about violence and instability.