August 28, 2019


'They're afraid': Suburban voters in red states threaten GOP's grip on power (Robert Costa, 8/09/19, Washington post)

Republicans face a reckoning in the red-state suburbs that have long been a bedrock for the party, propelled by the stormy confluence of President Trump's searing racial attacks, economic turbulence and frustration with government inaction after last weekend's deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

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. [...]

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.

The scene in Brookhaven, Ga., this week overlaps with suburban battlegrounds nationwide in states that were carried by Trump in 2016. Unease among suburban voters in those states over Trump's conduct and the GOP's limited steps on gun control has at times overshadowed Trump's economic record, which most Republicans count on to lift them next year.

Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), an African American gun-control advocate whose son was shot and killed in 2012, narrowly won Gingrich's former seat last year by building a diverse coalition that drew support from college-educated white Republicans who have drifted away from Trump -- a campaign that Democrats nationally have called a model for more suburban gains.

McBath won "because there was massive pushback among some of my Republican friends against Trump, even if it meant putting in an anti-gun person," Gordon Blitch, a 54-year-old independent, said this week outside a Lowe's home improvement store in nearby Chamblee, Ga. "They saw larger issues at stake, and she helped herself by running a pretty smart campaign."

Several suburban Republicans in Georgia's 6th Congressional District said this week that they are open to hearing out the Democrats on guns, raising the prospect that the issue could upend the dynamics in America's suburbs as Congress is pressured to act in the wake of the latest mass shootings.

"I've always supported the Second Amendment, and I grew up hunting with my dad, but you saw what happened over the weekend. It's scary," said aircraft worker Chad Staggs, a 52-year-old Republican, as he shopped at a Whole Foods Market. "I've got two daughters, and I don't want to see anything happen to them. It's simply out of control, and something has to be done on guns."

Liz Chase, a retired teacher and Democrat who was shopping nearby, said residents of this bustling suburb, which is full of young families and manicured lawns, are unsettled and seeking reassurance.

"They're afraid," Chase said. On Monday morning, she said -- the first day of classes at many of the district's elementary schools -- several parents stood "together in a circle at the bus stop, holding hands and praying that their kids would come home safely in the afternoon."

Besides the party's obviously problematic embrace of a racist leader, the GOP is stuck with an old playbook where you try to demonize Democrats on guns, taxes, the environment and health care, all issues where they are the 60% side.

Posted by at August 28, 2019 6:27 PM