Republicans believe framing Democratic candidates as proponents of socialism will boost GOP appeal among college-educated suburban women, a demographic that gave the Republicans trouble in last November’s midterms and could be critical in 2020.
At a Wednesday media lunch hosted by right-of-center nonprofit Winning for Women, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the party has evidence “the socialism issue is really resonating” with that key demographic, indicating these women are troubled by the Democrats’ socialist talking points. “So let’s talk about college-educated suburban women, where we did see a drop off in the midterms,” she said. “The socialism issue is really resonating with them, and that’s different in each state. But that’s something that’s resonating in Michigan and Pennsylvania suburbs, those sorts of areas.”
Asked by The Federalist specifically whether tying Democrats to socialism is working to win back college-educated suburban women, McDaniel replied, “I don’t want to speak out of turn, but I’ve been sitting in focus groups. I mean, this is something that we are seeing that they do not like.”
She added: “Where the left is going — open borders, no rule of law, health care for undocumented immigrants — these are things that when you come down to the binary choice, maybe they say, ‘Okay, I don’t like this about what’s happening right now, but here’s what’s coming my way. And this means poverty. This means a government takeover of my private health care plan, maybe losing my private health care plan. I like my doctor, I like my pediatrician, I don’t want the government taking those things away.'”
“So when you frame it that way, it does move them back,” McDaniel revealed.
Later referencing Democratic attempts to avoid socialist billing, the chairwoman asserted, “They’re shrinking from being labeled that because they know that it’s moving numbers too.”
In terms of approval numbers, the president does appear to be struggling with suburban women, but McDaniel’s suggestion that Republicans triumph when swing-state suburban women are forced to confront a “binary choice” between the GOP and a socialist is important insight into the party’s strategy. As the GOP escalates efforts on behalf of Trump and other 2020 candidates, expect Republicans to work hard making the case their opponents are socialists, and Democrats to sprint away from that labeling.