POLITICS

Affluent suburbs tipping Republican?

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone

Last spring I wrote an Examiner column saying there was a 20% chance that affluent non-Southern suburbs would trend to Mitt Romney. That would reverse a trend toward the Democrats between 1988, when George Bush 41 racked up huge margins there, and 2008, when most affluent non-Southern conties voted for Barack Obama.

I see fragmentary evidence of such a trend. In three recent polls in heavily affluent suburban Connecticut, Obama leads Romney by only 52%-43%. He carried the state 61%-38%. Obama is running 9% behind his 2008 percentage; his 23% margin is now 9%. Polling in New Jersey, also heavily affluent suburban, is averaging 50%-40%, down from Obama’s 57%-42% in 2008. Neither state is a target state (though south Jersey gets Philadelphia TV, with any Pennsylvania-targeted ads) or likely to be one on these numbers. But if the apparent CT and NJ trends are happening in affluent suburbs in target states, assumptions based on 2008 benchmarks could prove to be unjusified.

Additional evidence comes from a Michael McKeon poll of Cook County, Illinois, which shows Obama losing the Cook County suburbs. That would be a huge reversal, but McKeon’s polling is contriversial and suburban Cook County today has so many black, Hispanic and Jewish residents that these numbers seem highly improbable. I’ll await confitmation by othet polls, though I do think Obama won’t duplicate his big home town percentages in the Collar County suburbs. But Illinois is not in play.

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