Wins for Democrats in Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Indiana show that the coalition that put President Trump in the White House is hemorrhaging voters, threatening his reelection prospects in 2020.
Trump won election three years ago with support from a potent combination of rural, blue-collar voters and suburbanites. But in key state and local elections on Tuesday, suburban voters rejected Republicans, turning once-GOP strongholds blue.
“The battle for the suburbs is still up in the air,” said Brad Todd, a Republican consultant whose client, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, won a competitive race for governor.
In 2016, Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the suburbs 49% to 45%, while capturing 61% of the rural vote, according to the media-conducted exit polls. In midterm elections last year, the Republicans’ suburban advantage eroded substantially. The Democrats improved their vote share in the suburbs to 49%, equaling the Republicans’ performance on their way toward flipping dozens of House districts that had been controlled by the GOP for years.
No exit polling of Tuesday’s contests was conducted, but Republicans absorbed yet more mortal blows in the suburbs. Democratic challengers retired Republicans in county elections in the Indianapolis and Philadelphia suburbs. The party also flipped state legislative seats in suburban Virginia, turning the commonwealth’s legislature blue and solidifying full Democratic control of the state house for the first time in 20 years. Suburban defections denied Republican Gov. Matt Bevin a victory.