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Suburban Voters to Play Pivotal Role In 2020 Presidential Election

August 13, 2020 by Reece Nations
Shawn Pearson took a “I Voted” sticker after submitting his ballot at Duluth Congregational Church in Duluth’s 8th precinct on Tuesday. .

WASHINGTON – Many variables will contribute to how the 2020 presidential election takes shape, however, there appears to be one undecided factor paramount to a successful campaign — suburban voters. 

This was made evident in 2016 when President Donald Trump beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the suburbs of six key battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — by a margin of 560,412 votes combined. These same suburban counties were consequently crucial to Democrats’ regaining control of the House of Representatives in 2018.

Moreover, winning over this suburban demographic appears to be a key strategy for Trump. On both the campaign trail and Twitter, Trump has remarked on what a win for former Vice President Joe Biden in November would mean for suburbanites.

“Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream,” Trump tweeted July 23. “I will preserve it, and make it even better!”

But analysis published by centrist-Democratic think tank, Third Way, indicates Biden is on track to retake battleground states Clinton lost in 2016. Should Biden match Clinton’s 2016 performance with the addition of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — which polling data suggests are within his reach — estimates show he would surpass the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, according to 270towin.com.

In 2016, Clinton was projected to win Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but lost by a margin of 77,744 votes, according to Third Way. However, Democrats turned their losses around in 2018 and obtained the governorships and Senate seats in all three of these states.

Supplemented by data from the analytics firm Catalist, Third Way evaluated the probability of suburban support for Biden by gauging overall Democratic support across suburban counties in swing states. Further, Third Way analyzed additional support from rural and urban counties and estimated the share of suburban voters Democrats need to reach a statewide 50% margin.

In the last presidential election, nearly half of the electorate was suburban voters, according to Third Way. Forty-eight percent of voters nationwide were from suburban counties, compared to just 28% and 24% of voters from urban counties and rural counties, respectively.

More than half of all voters of color live in suburban areas and just one-in-four suburban adults have a college degree, according to Third Way. These statistics indicate the suburbs have evolved into more ethnically and socio-economically diverse populaces than commonly thought.

Only time will tell if Democrats’ efforts to preserve the support of suburban voters will yield dividends and deliver them the presidency.

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