The 2012 Presidential campaign will be decided in the tree-lined cul-de-sacs that dominate the American landscape. Rural voters are reliably Republican and urban voters are reliably Democrat. But, suburban voters are the swingy-est of voters. In many states, they decide the outcome of competitive races. Stuffed with Independents, suburban voters started drifting towards Democrats during the baby boomer campaign of Bill Clinton. Today, however, there are signs they are rushing back to the GOP.
The latest Politico battleground poll, released earlier this week, shows Romney with a massive 19-point lead over Obama among suburban voters. Surprisingly, it’s actually one point higher than his lead among rural voters. Obama leads among urban voters by 29 points. In 2008, Obama won the suburban vote by 2 points. The 21-point swing away from him makes his reelection very difficult.
Obama’s approval rating among suburban voters is deeply underwater. Just 42% approve of the job he is doing, against 57% who disapprove. A staggering 52% disapprove strongly. Romney has a net 23 approval rating among suburban voters, 59% approving with 36% disapproving.
Over the past 30 years, no one has won the presidency without winning the suburban vote. Bill Clinton’s successful campaigns were built on getting strong support from suburban voters. To some extent, Obama inherited much of the goodwill Clinton earned with this important voting block. Yet, in just four years, Obama seems to have squandered that.
As the suburbs go, so goes the nation. Today, at least, the suburbs are going with Romney.