The Suburban White Vote Is Still Up For Grabs

Sure, it looks quiet, but don't let looks fool you.Kevin Drum

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Here’s an odd thing: the presidential campaign appears to be hanging at least partly on who can most effectively lose the white suburban vote. On one side this is deliberate and on the other it’s not, but either way it’s all out there and it’s all getting media coverage.

On one side we have President Trump tweeting a video of a black man shoving a white woman; defending Kyle Rittenhouse, the white man who allegedly killed two protesters in Kenosha; banning the use of diversity training at federal agencies; and tweeting that the Department of Education is “looking at” the use of the Pulitzer-winning 1619 Project in public schools. These actions and others are almost laughably racist, obviously designed to appeal to Trump’s core base of supporters. But because they’re so obvious, they’re also likely to turn off moderate white suburbanites who aren’t willing to swallow such overt and toxic racism.

The other side is completely different. It’s not organized. It’s not connected to either Joe Biden or BLM. It’s not aimed at winning any campaign at all. Nonetheless, it has one thing in common with Trump’s deliberate atrocities: it’s covered by the press and, fair or not, many readers and viewers see it as a product of “the left” without any nuance. It includes things like serious defenses of looting during BLM protests; recommendations that schools shouldn’t be named after Benjamin Franklin; the firing of serious researchers for merely noting the existence of studies that suggest nonviolent protests are more effective than violent ones; and professors removed from their classes for repeating Chinese syllables that sound vaguely like the N-word. These are the kinds of incidents that might make moderate white suburbanites wonder if things haven’t gotten a little out of hand.

Most likely both sides are cancelling each other out and Trump will continue to lag behind his 2016 performance in suburban areas without much change. Still, I get emails from friends in swing states like Virginia and North Carolina who worry about their neighbors being turned off by some of the more extreme abuses of wokeness. The folks behind this stuff might want to think twice about their motivations and the rest of us might want to think twice about whether it’s wise to stay silent about it. Nobody needs a Sister Souljah moment or anything ridiculous like that, but neither should we stay silent and let the media frame this for us. I think we all know how that would go.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate