Earlier this week, 10 women from across the country met on Zoom and talked for two hours as part of a focus group on politics. All of the women were white, lived in the suburbs and had been identified as swing voters. One was a mother from Iowa who owns a small business. Another teaches special education in Florida. And there was a school bus driver from Pennsylvania….
Democrats need support from suburban women if they want to keep their House and Senate majorities in November. The women in the focus group didn’t necessarily dislike Biden. They supported the infrastructure law and opposed measures that restrict voting access. They applauded Biden for his hot-mic moment — the one when he muttered a disparaging remark about a Fox News reporter. They disliked Trump, and they were disgusted with those who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Despite all of that, they weren’t eager to vote for Democrats in the midterm elections in November…
“It’s absolutely essential that by Election Day, these suburban women are looking at Washington and seeing it as a place that can get things done,” said Meredith Kelly, a Democratic strategist.
There is a lot of time until November elections but the pattern is clear for the national political parties: appeal to suburban voters, particularly those who have voted for Republicans and Democrats in their past and need some motivation to go one way or another.
My sense is that historically Joe Biden has been a politician who has successfully made this appeal. Throughout his career, Biden has talked about the middle-class and providing opportunities for people to provide for themselves and their families.
But, Biden is now operating in a particular context. Suburban politics have some new wrinkles – school board elections, mask mandates – and some long-standing concerns: protect property values and a way of life, ensure success for children, enable local government to serve and adjust to local conditions.
Perhaps neither party has to have a wave of suburban voters in their favor but rather (1) get the right suburban voters in the closest races that matter the most for the Senate and House and/or (2) drive up voter turnout for their side. As I live in a district that is somewhat mixed politically, I will be watching how appeals are made and how they work.