The suburbs were democratic territory on Tuesday. What happens in 2024? | ET REALITY


From northern Virginia to northern Kentucky, American suburbs rejected Republican candidates on Tuesday, sending a message that the leafy residential communities where elections were once won and lost are increasingly siding with the Democratic Party. especially when it comes to the right to abortion.

Only in the eastern New York suburbs of Long Island did the Republican message about crime and “open borders” seem to resonate. Democrats took a beating in Suffolk County, where suburbanites may be retreating from the immigration crisis gripping the western metropolis.

Elsewhere, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, voters rejected Republican messages on abortion, LGBTQ issues and crime, sending a signal that while They may worry about President Biden’s age and abilities, they may worry more about Republican positions in the era of Donald J. Trump.

“Suburban America abandoned the Republican Party in 2016 when they didn’t like Trump’s behavior,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster and messaging consultant. “They started coming back in 2022 when they rejected Joe Biden’s economic policies, but they will leave again if the conversation is about abortion and social policy.”

Abortion was dominant; Suburban voters outside of Ohio’s largest cities voted overwhelmingly to establish abortion rights in the state constitution. Kentucky’s incumbent Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, who ran hard on abortion rights and everyday issues like infrastructure spending, won not only Jefferson County, home of Louisville, and Fayette County, home of Lexington . He also defeated his Republican rival, Daniel Cameron, in Kenton and Campbell counties, once reliable Republican strongholds across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

Two years ago, Glenn Youngkin’s victorious Republican campaign for governor of Virginia caused some Democrats to worry that their control over suburban sprawl outside the nation’s capital was not as tight as they had thought. Those same suburbs on Tuesday made Danica Roem, a Democrat, the first transgender state senator in the South, while helping Democrats win a majority in the Virginia General Assembly and maintain control of the state Senate.

“We let the Democrats push the message and make it all about abortion,” said John Whitbeck, a former chairman of the Virginia Republican Party who lives in Loudoun County, a suburb of Washington. “The Republican Party needs to modernize its messaging on this issue if we want to convince Democrats and independents to vote Republican. The reality is that Virginia has some districts that vote blue. In a year when Roe v. “Wade is driving the intensity, there is no way we are going to win those districts.”

In retrospect, Youngkin’s victory may have been a hangover from the coronavirus pandemic, when suburban parents became concerned about school closures and responded to his singular focus on education, said Heather Williams, acting chairwoman of the Committee on Education. Democratic Legislative Campaign, which works to elect Democrats to state legislatures.

This time, she said, some of the same parents pushed back against Republican efforts to ban LGBTQ-themed books from libraries and generally inject socially conservative views into the school system.

“The question of fundamental freedoms still resonates a lot,” he said.

In the hotly contested school board elections in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, voters resoundingly rejected all candidates backed by the right-wing group Moms for Freedom, which had led efforts to remove LGBTQ books from libraries and exercise control more conservative about the study plans.

In 2021, with the pandemic still weighing on schools, the group claimed victory in 33 school board seats in the changing suburbs of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. On Tuesday, Moms for Freedom candidates lost five school board elections in central Bucks County.

“They just got crushed,” said Jeffrey Pollock, a Democratic pollster who worked with candidates in Pennsylvania. “Voters are looking for middle-of-the-road candidates with common sense, and that includes how they will view Donald Trump a year from now.”

Tiffany Justice, co-founder of Moms for Liberty and former Indian River County, Florida, school board member, expressed no regrets, saying that across the country, about 90 school board candidates endorsed by his group won, out of a total of 202 he endorsed. Moms for Liberty’s “win rate” fell, from more than 50 percent in 2022 to 43 percent on Tuesday, she said. But, she said, the group will return in 2024 with 139 candidates, better training for candidates, more money and more professional political associations.

“We’re just getting started,” he said.

The only Republican bright spot was significant: New York. In an otherwise disappointing 2022 midterm elections, Republican victories in the suburbs of the country’s largest city assured the party of its narrow control of the House. Democrats are counting on a comeback to help take back the House.

But the signal sent Tuesday was that where voters are seeing the huge increase in migrants coming from the southern border, the Republican message on crime and border security is working. In these areas, voters were not asked to litigate the issue of abortion.

Ed Romaine easily transformed the Suffolk County Executive Office from Democrat to Republican. Republican Kristy Marmorato won a seat on the Bronx City Council for the first time in more than 50 years.

Of course, the threat of an abortion ban did not weigh on those elections, because reproductive rights are already guaranteed in New York.

Reid J. Epstein contributed with reports.

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