Trump Has Unleashed a Giant: Mothers

Women continue to lead the resistance.

According to Harry Enten, Joe Biden is currently leading the presidential race by historic margins in the suburbs.

Biden is up by a 52% to 43% margin among suburban voters in the ABC News/Washington Post poll…In the average of all the polls, Biden’s ahead by more than 15 points with suburban voters. This is a historic margin, if it holds…Four years ago at this time, Trump was beating Clinton by a 45% to 35% margin in the ABC/Washington Post poll among suburban voters…

If you were to go back over time, the exit poll data reveals that no Democrat has won the suburban vote by more than 5 points since at least 1972, when the first exit poll was taken in a presidential election…Back in 2008 (the best year for Democrats this century), Obama won in the suburbs by 2 points in the exit polls. The final ABC News/Washington Post poll had him winning in the suburbs by 5 points.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind about this data. The first is that the demographics of the suburbs are changing, as I documented a few months ago. No longer the exclusive destination of “white flight” that began in the 1960s, the suburban population is becoming more diverse both in terms of race and class.

Secondly, the so-called “blue wave” of the 2018 midterms happened primarily in the suburbs. Of the 41 congressional districts that Democrats turned from red to blue that year, 38 were suburban. That was paired with the biggest gender gap in U.S. political history.

The term “resistance” has been used to describe everything from Black Lives Matter to the Bernie Sanders campaign. But we must never forget the role that women (especially mothers) played. It all started with the Women’s March the same weekend that Trump was inaugurated. As the research by Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson documented, it didn’t end there.

…after they marched, many of them went home, held meetings, invited friends to the meetings, started Facebook groups to get more friends to the meetings, called their Congressional representatives, held letter-writing parties, flooded Town Halls, and, finally, figured out which Republicans in their town councils or county governments or state legislatures or congressional districts they wanted to get rid of—and sometimes, which Democrats…

As parents and often churchgoers, they have broad networks of family and friends. Maybe they recently retired and have time on their hands. Their groups shrank a bit over the summer, but Trump’s belligerent tweets and reckless executive orders have served as a kind of reveille, rallying at least some of the troops back to the flag.

As I wrote just prior to the 2018 midterms, even white evangelical mothers in Texas rebelled against Trump’s caging of immigrant children, leading one of them to say that “I care as much about babies at the border as I do about babies in the womb.”

It was the “Mothers of the Movement” that organized against police brutality after the killing of their unarmed children by law enforcement. One of them, Lucy McBath, was elected to Congress in 2018 to represent a district in suburban Georgia.

That’s why it didn’t surprise me that mothers showed up this weekend in Portland, Oregon—armed with face masks and bike helmets— to protest the actions of federal troops in that city.

The list of things Donald Trump has done to offend mothers in this country is long—not the least of which is his attempt to force their children back to school with no plan to keep them safe from a raging pandemic. As Skocpol and Williamson documented with their research, many of these mothers had never been involved in electoral politics before. The president and his Republican enablers have woken up a sleeping giant and the day will come when they rue the day they did so.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.