A Theory on Why the Republican Party Is Getting Decimated in the Suburbs

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A Theory on Why the Republican Party Is Getting Decimated in the Suburbs


That’s it. That’s the column.

But for those who prefer evidence with their blogs, let me present to you the first piece, last night’s elections.

Next up: this damning chart, from Pew.

In recent years, a sharp shift in leaned partisanship among Millennial women

Computer, enhance.

millennial women pew.png

That, my friends, is the climate change of the Republican Party. It’s happening. Right now. They are getting routed amongst half of the 2nd largest generation in human history (Gen Z is the largest but that doesn’t help the GOP’s case given that they’re likely to follow this trend as well), and it is only going to get worse with time. Instead of doing something about it now to perhaps stave off electoral extinction, the GOP is going all in on Trumpism, further alienating an important voting bloc who will only gain more and more power with time.

Now, this is where the theory begins. You’ll notice that millennial women sharply diverged from the Republican Party beginning in 2014 according to Pew. Gen X (54%-37%) and boomer (53%-41%) women also identify as Democrats more than Republicans, but according to this chart that ends in 2017, it is not to the overwhelming degree that millennial women have.

And yet, we have the historic Democratic landslide of 2018, and last night’s elections where Democrats ran up the score so much that Democratic Socialists were taking out Republican incumbents in suburban districts in Virginia (again). Something’s happening very quickly to the GOP in the suburbs, and it’s pretty staggering, which brings me back to the Pew study. Computer, enhance once more.

gen x and boomer women pew.png

Here we see a similarly angled split between Dem and GOP identification, but beginning in 2015 or 2016, so when the chart drops off in 2017, it does not look as stark as the GOP’s problem with millennial women. It seems likely that the best explanation for the GOP wipeout in the suburbs in 2018 and 2019 is that those two lines followed the same trend, and what was roughly 54% Democratic identification in 2017 has grown to around 60%. If boomer and gen X women matched the pace of millennial women’s revulsion to GOP politics, then they are at or above 70% Dem right now.

Trumpist politics is a good strategy to run up the score amongst white men (you’ll notice that millennial men are the only male age group that identifies more as Democrats than as Republicans), but it clearly alienates women. This is something you don’t need a pollster to realize. I think most women most of us know are clearly anti-Trump and all that nonsense that comes with his style of politics. The GOP has declared complete and utter fealty to that monstrosity, and it has not come without a serious sacrifice. Many suburbs have been reliably conservative for decades—but I now write about it in the past tense thanks to events like Philadelphia’s Delaware County Council flipping to the Democrats for the first time since the Civil War. Alienating the suburbs has dramatically deleterious consequences for Senate and presidential races as well, as these handy Pew charts demonstrate.

Shrinking share of Americans in rural communities

In general, Democrats win elections in urban districts by roughly the same margins that Saddam Hussein won his multiple “reelections.” Republicans own the rural areas, and so most of American politics is the fight for the suburbs. If the GOP is losing suburban women at Saddam Hussein levels, then that means they are losing relevance as a national party. This is unsustainable long-term, and this dramatic shift to the left in the electorate is being driven by women and the two largest and most liberal generations in American history. Everything is awful right now and all the worst people are in power, but at least we can take solace in the fact that so long as current conditions continue, and we can maintain something resembling a democracy in the face of increasing GOP authoritarianism, there is an electoral tsunami on the way guaranteed to dramatically realign national politics away from Trumpism.

Jacob Weindling is a writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.

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