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Trump has turned the suburbs into a GOP disaster zone. Does that doom his reelection?

Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

MESA, Ariz. -- For decades, there was an unvaried rhythm to life in America's suburbs: Carpool in the morning, watch sports on weekends, barbecue in the summer, vote Republican in November.

Then came President Trump.

The orderly subdivisions and kid-friendly communities that ring the nation's cities have become a deathtrap for Republicans, as college-educated and upper-income women flee the party in droves, costing the GOP its House majority and sapping the party's strength in state capitals and local governments nationwide.

The dramatic shift is also reshaping the 2020 presidential race, elevating Democratic hopes in traditional GOP strongholds like Arizona and Georgia, and forcing Trump to redouble efforts to boost rural turnout to offset defectors who, some fear, may never vote Republican so long as the president is on the ballot.

Emily Romney Sanchez is one of them.

The GOP has "gone from defending conservative principles" like free trade and a muscular stance against Russia and North Korea "to defending (Trump's) latest tweets," said Sanchez, a life coach and mother of five in this prosperous desert community. (She is a distant relative of Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.)

 

Sanchez considers Trump "reprehensible as a human being" and the Republican Party morally bankrupt. "I couldn't be a part of it anymore," she said, and as a result, at age 40 the newly registered independent is weighing her first-ever Democratic vote for president.

In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, Sarah Matthews, said "over the next year, our robust 'Women for Trump' coalition will continue working to mobilize supporters across the country and share the President's record of success."

The erosion of support among suburban women began during the 2016 campaign -- for many the breaking point was the "Access Hollywood" video, in which Trump boasted of grabbing women by their genitals -- and increased dramatically in the 2018 midterm election, costing Republicans control of the House.

The trend continued in the recent off-year elections, in suburbs from Wichita, Kan., to northern New Jersey to DeSoto County, Miss. Democrats won two of three gubernatorial contests, in Kentucky and Louisiana, in good part because of their strength in those Republican redoubts.

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