Virginia’s Suburbs Aren’t Trump Country

Rather than sifting through the debris of Tuesday night’s presidential debate, let’s look back at a simpler time in the race — Friday, Sept. 25 — to try to get a handle on what President Trump is really all about in this campaign.

That night, the president held a rally in Newport News. Such events were essential to his 2016 electoral strategy and most certainly would have been a huge part of his reelection campaign were it not for the novel coronavirus.

But given the polling data and the statements of his campaign team, it was surprising to see him spend valuable time and political capital in the commonwealth.

The president admitted he’d been told not to bother campaigning in Virginia, but he showed up anyway. Trump said:

I was told not to go for Virginia. We did really well last time and I never came, I never did anything, and we did really well. I said, “Why didn’t I go for Virginia?” But it’s traditionally not a Republican state over the last number of decades. And I said, “Why not?” You have a crazy governor and every time I see it, every two weeks he’s trying to take your guns away, right?

If we leave aside the inaccuracies and the outright lies (Trump was in Virginia several times during the previous campaign), what — aside from calling Gov. Ralph Northam (D) a gun-grabbing, abortion-obsessed, “crazy” person — was the president’s message to the crowd?

It’s hard to say. Trump tossed everything from the salad bar into his remarks. There were a few doozies, like this on suburbia and women voters:

You know, I keep hearing about suburban women like you, right? Suburban women. Well, I just ended a regulation that would have allowed projects in your.… Do you mind having a project next to your house, your beautiful? You live in a beautiful house, right? Happily married, beautiful kids, everything perfect. The American Dream, right? Do you mind having a project built next door? Yeah. She said she minds. Do you know who minds? Everybody minds.

The president should have left this toxic brew on Air Force One. Virginia’s suburbs have minded Trump — minded him so much they have steadily marched away from him and the GOP since 2016.

The move has yet to affect Trump directly. The ones who have felt the immediate wrath of suburban voters were Republican candidates such as 2017 gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie, whose landslide defeat included losing the once reliably Republican Chesterfield County to Northam.

In that same election, suburban Republicans in the House of Delegates were falling like snowflakes and almost lost their majority. That would have to wait until 2019, when Republicans ran impressively awful campaigns railing against socialism and assorted boogeymen on their way to losing control of the General Assembly.

And how could we forget the 2018 midterm elections, when Virginia Republicans crumpled before the very suburban women Trump says he wants to protect? The GOP casualty list that year included 7th District Rep. Dave Brat, 10th District Rep. Barbara Comstock and 2nd District Rep. Scott Taylor.

Is there any indication the suburbs will stop rejecting the GOP, particularly when Trump is on the ballot?

Continue reading at the Washington Post.

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