Joe Biden and allied Republicans are trying to rally GOP women in swing-state suburbs away from Donald Trump
Image via AP.

Terry Sykes
'I feel like I have to vote for the policies, not the person.'

Thirty miles north of Philadelphia, upscale subdivisions such as Colonial Commons interrupt dairy farms, centuries-old roadside stone houses and the winding Neshaminy Creek that flows between Doylestown and Newtown. Both cities were once rural outposts that have morphed into fashionable commercial, dining and shopping hubs.

This is one of the most closely watched areas in U.S. politics. President Joe Biden ran up his numbers in Bucks County, which includes both cities, on the way to flipping Pennsylvania from Republican Donald Trump four years ago, and won among suburban women in the state by a substantial margin.

Biden and his allies are trying to replicate Democrats’ success with suburban women this year and signaling they can win a small number of Republican women who may be opposed to a second Trump presidency. But in dozens of interviews this month in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, there was little evidence that traditional Republicans were ready to abandon Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, in significant numbers.

“I feel like I have to vote for the policies, not the person,” said Lynn Natale, a 62-year-old interior designer. While Natale criticized Trump’s rhetorical style — “It’s like he doesn’t have the words to speak directly to women” — she said she supported Trump’s ideas on the economy and immigration.

“The alternative is unacceptable,” she said.

About a dozen volunteers gathered in Biden’s Bucks County campaign office on a recent sunny Saturday afternoon. The group fanned out across politically mixed neighborhoods around Doylestown, knocking on doors of registered Republican voters as well as those unaffiliated with either major party to ask them about issues that concerned them most.

In addition to the Biden campaign’s outreach in politically mixed and Republican-voting neighborhoods of Bucks County, conservative groups such as Women4Us and Republican Voters Against Trump are mobilizing in suburban Philadelphia with hopes of peeling off GOP voters.

Stephanie Sharp, with Women4Us, pointed to former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley receiving 22% of the vote in the four-county suburban Philadelphia bloc in the April Republican Presidential Primary. That translated to 42,032 votes won by Haley six weeks after she suspended her campaign, in what was an apparent protest vote against Trump.

“Pennsylvania’s closed Republican Primary demonstrated an appetite for something better,” said Sharp, whose group is planning outreach to Republican women in the most competitive presidential campaign states, including Pennsylvania.

“Republican women have had enough of our votes being taken for granted,” Sharp added.

Trump’s team is confident inflation and illegal immigration will drive some suburban women toward the former president, who is holding a rally Saturday in Philadelphia.

“President Trump is speaking to women when he discusses the sky-high cost of rent, groceries and gas in Biden’s America,” Trump’s national press secretary Karoline Leavitt said. “President Trump is speaking to women when he talks about the migrant crime that has ravaged suburban communities.”

About 6 in 10 suburban women in Pennsylvania voted for Biden in 2020, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of voters nationwide, while 4 in 10 voted for Trump. But this year, many suburban women aren’t happy to be faced with the same matchup, a trend that’s true of Americans at large, according to public polling.

A recent survey of women voters by KFF found that about 6 in 10 suburban women are unsatisfied with their options for president. About half of those who identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party said the main reason they’re not satisfied with Biden was related to his age or his mental and physical health.

Much smaller shares of Democratic-leaning suburban women pointed to other concerns, like the conflict between the Israelis and Hamas, the economy or his performance as president.

Suburban women voters were generally much likelier to say that Biden respects women, compared to Trump. About 7 in 10 suburban women voters said Biden respects women a lot or some, compared to only about 3 in 10 suburban women who said that about Trump. Nearly 7 in 10 suburban women said Trump doesn’t respect women much, or at all.

But when asked about the most important issue for their 2024 vote, suburban women were most likely to point to inflation.

Terry Sykes, the owner of the boutique and spa along Newtown’s quaint State Street, says the local economy matters most to her.

It thrived, she said, during Trump’s administration, “like turning on a light switch.”

“To be clear, all of Trump’s policy positions support how I live my life,” the 61-year-old Sykes said. “I mean, he is who he is. And women need to get over it. Because it’s all about the policy and the health of our economy.”

Anusha Bela, working from a laptop in a coffee shop in Doylestown’s bustling downtown, had been a more fervent Biden supporter early on, but became disappointed with what she viewed as his slow response to Israel’s violence in Gaza.

“And would I prefer someone younger? Yes. Would I prefer someone who seems to have newer ideas? Yes,” the 40-year-old sports business consultant in a Philadelphia Phillies cap said.

“But Trump is a danger to democracy,” she said.


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


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Comments are closed.


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