As the GOP’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump has the potential to dramatically shake up the electoral calculus for November, but he also exposes fault lines within the Republican Party.
American Communities Project Director Dante Chinni and the Wall Street Journal’s Aaron Zitner this week examined how two counties around Philadelphia show the different political and policy approaches different kinds of Republicans favor.
But those splits aren’t unique to Pennsylvania. Counties like Montgomery, an Urban Suburb of Philadelphia, and Berks, a neighboring Middle Suburb, can be seen all around the Industrial Midwest. In Michigan, the examples are Oakland (Urban Suburb) and Macomb (Middle Suburb) counties. In Ohio there are Montgomery (Urban Suburb) and Clark and Miami (Middle Suburb) counties.
Those places can be seen on the map below with the Urban Suburbs in dark orange and the Middle Suburbs in light orange and they bear some sharp socioeconomic differences.
Republicans in the Urban Suburbs, where the data show voters are more concerned about Mr. Trump, are much more likely to say their standard of living is getting better – 61% say that in Gallup polling data analyzed with the ACP typology. In the Middle Suburbs, only 46% of Republicans say their standard of living is improving.
That’s a pretty dramatic 15-point difference and it’s almost certainly related to education data. Republicans living in Urban Suburbs are much more likely to have gone to college than their Middle Suburb counterparts – 41% versus 29% respectively.
Urban Suburban Republicans are more likely to hold professional, managerial or owner positions than Middle Suburb GOPers. And Middle Suburb Republicans are more likely to hold blue-collar jobs.
These are the internal splits in the party and in the electorates in these kinds of counties and they run deep.
In Berks County, GOP county Chairwoman Bonnie Stock, who says she didn’t vote for Mr. Trump in the primary but will in November, says the difference is that people in Montgomery County, “don’t want to rock the boat.” Why? “Because they are in the boat.”
That analysis certainly fits with the picture these numbers paint and the stories from Montgomery and Berks counties.
There are Republicans who are “in the boat” in the Urban Suburbs and Republican swimming along side who want to “rock the boat” in the Middle Suburbs – and in other places we’ll examine. These voters live near each other geographically, but in different worlds in the socioeconomic sense. Whether the divide between them can be bridged will tell a lot about Mr. Trump’s chances in November.