Looking at which way Midwest suburban swing-state voters are leaning

Here is an update on the landscape of suburban voters in Midwest swing states ahead of the 2020 presidential election:

https://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president/ohio/

Trump’s chances for a second term rest heavily on being able to maintain the margins he won by in 2016, particularly in suburban areas. He plans to campaign outside Toledo on Monday, as liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death stokes questions of whether the sudden court vacancy would energize more suburban voters who support abortion rights or social conservatives in small-town and rural areas who oppose them.

Republican lawmakers and strategists in Ohio say they are seeing research that shows a near-uniform drop in support from his 2016 totals across every suburban region of the state…

There is less debate in other states. Pennsylvania Republicans say across the longtime GOP stronghold of Chester County west of Philadelphia, for instance, Trump has slipped as far as he has in Ohio’s suburbs, though in more populous towns and in a state he carried by fewer than 45,000 votes…

A central question is whether Trump can, as his campaign predicts, spur even more support than in 2016 from rural voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Several quick thoughts:

  1. The Trump campaign has tried to appeal to suburban voters – see the rhetoric about Democrats wanting to “abolish” suburbs – yet also seems committed to trying to get as many votes as possible from more rural areas.
  2. These suburban locations in the Midwest are an interesting mix of prosperity and problems. They are located within Rust Belt states where changing economic conditions, particularly the loss of manufacturing jobs, have threatened what were once growing, prosperous states. On the other hand, many of these suburban voters are in relatively good position compared to others in their metropolitan region or their state.
  3. As Trump courts rural voters, population change in rural America is more complex than just saying the rural population is declining. See this 2019 research:
Figure 3
https://carsey.unh.edu/publication/rural-depopulation

Our research provides clear evidence of depopulation across a broad swatch of rural America. Depopulation seemingly is now built into the demographic fabric of some parts of rural America—a result of chronic outmigration among young adults of reproductive age, along with population aging and high mortality rates. Yet, depopulation is far from universal. Many rural regions continue to grow, often rapidly, including exurban areas just beyond the metropolitan suburban fringe, and high-amenity recreational and retirement areas. These counties are likely to hold their own demographically in the future. The situation is much different for the depopulating rural counties caught in a downward spiral of population loss.

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