Apr 24, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's warning signs in suburbia

Former US President Donald Trump during a campaign event in Green Bay, Wisconsin, US, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

Former President Trump during a campaign event in Green Bay, Wis., on April 2. Photo: Daniel Steinle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Trump is showing signs that his vulnerabilities with suburban voters in 2020 will carry over to 2024.

Why it matters: The persistent protest vote against Trump has been pronounced in suburbs around Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Atlanta, even after former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley ended her campaign.

Zoom in: Haley, who suspended her campaign last month, has received double-digit vote shares in key suburban counties in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia.

  • Pennsylvania: In Chester County, Haley won 25% of the vote; in Delaware, she won 23%; in Montgomery, she won 25%, and in Bucks, 19% of the vote went to Haley.
  • Wisconsin: Haley won 12% or more in each of the three large suburban areas outside of Milwaukee (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington). She slightly overperformed in these counties compared to her overall vote totals. Trump announced Wednesday he is holding a rally in Waukesha next week.
  • Georgia: Haley, who dropped out after some early ballots had been cast, still made a sizable primary showing in suburban Atlanta, including 23% in Cobb and 17% in Gwinnett counties.

Between the lines: Almost 17% of GOP voters cast a ballot for Haley in the primary on Tuesday.

  • Trump also underperformed in Pennsylvania counties that were strongholds for him in 2020, such as Lancaster.
  • Trump "can't win without [suburban voters], especially in states like the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania and others," said Vince Galko, a Pennsylvania GOP strategist.

The other side: "Yesterday, President Trump continued his winning streak and delivered a resounding primary win in Pennsylvania," Karoline Leavitt, the Trump campaign national press secretary, said in a statement.

  • Leavitt also highlighted battleground polling that has shown Trump leading Biden.

The Biden campaign, which is facing its own protest vote, has pointed to the anti-Trump vote in GOP primary contests as a sign of his vulnerabilities ahead of November.

  • "Donald Trump has a serious general election problem," the Biden campaign rapid response director Ammar Moussa wrote Wednesday.

What to watch: Forward Majority, a Democratic super PAC that focuses on state legislative races, is eyeing 41 districts that predominately run through the suburbs in Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

  • "Rather than a few battleground states, voters who live in just a handful of suburban legislative districts will decide control of Congress, the White House and all the rights that fall to state legislature," Forward Majority wrote in a memo.

Go deeper: Trump can't shake lingering primary protest votes in Pennsylvania

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