The media has paid a lot of attention throughout the campaign and afterward on rural and working-class white America. Not nearly as much attention has been spent on suburban America, whose college-educated white voters (especially white women) were supposed to provide Hillary Clinton a bulwark to big losses among the white working class. Instead, these voters abandoned Clinton too. Mitt Romney carried the suburbs by 2 points — Trump carried them by 5 points.
The theory held by the Clinton campaign was that Clinton would make up for losses in rural, white America with gains in suburban America among white voters who were turned off by Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, lack of presidential timbre and temperament and sexist behavior brought to light by the Access Hollywood tape.
Yet, in looking at the results of highly-educated suburban counties, it’s clear that those voters didn’t turn out for Clinton with the fervor that the rural white voters did for Trump.
This was especially true in the Rust Belt. According to exit polls in Wisconsin, Trump not only improved on Romney's performance in small city and rural areas of the state by 20 points, but he also did 11 points better in the suburbs than Romney. In Pennsylvania, Trump slipped a bit from Romney's showing in the suburbs (he dropped two points), but he carried small town/rural Pennsylvania by 45 points - a whopping 19 point advantage over Romney's showing four years ago.
In particular, Clinton improved on Obama’s showing in liberal Dane County (home of the University of Wisconsin), by just four points while Trump improved over Romney’s showing in Brown County (Green Bay) by five points. Waukesha County, the heavily Republican suburbs around Milwaukee, gave Trump 17,000 fewer votes than they gave Romney in 2012. Even so, Clinton picked up just 420 more votes than Obama took in 2012. Overall, she performed just 3 points better than Obama here.
In Ohio, Clinton improved on Obama’s showing in GOP leaning Delaware County - suburban Columbus - by 3 points. Yet, it was no match for the strength of Trump in working class Youngstown (Mahoning County). He ran 12 points better here than did Romney.
Clinton did outperform Trump in the Philadelphia suburbs but not by enough to offset a downturn in Philadelphia and an upturn in votes from white working class voters in Luzerne County (Wilkes Barre) or Westmoreland (Pittsburgh area). For example, Clinton outperformed Obama in suburban Philadelphia’s Chester County by five points, but Trump outperformed Romney in Luzerne by 11 points.
Virginia was the one bright spot for Clinton. Northern Virginia’s Arlington County gave her 82 percent of the vote, an 11 point increase from Obama’s 2012 showing, while Fairfax County gave her 69 percent of the vote — a nine point increase from 2012.
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