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Why President Trump Needs White Suburban Voters

A suburban neighborhood is seen as Amtrak's California Zephyr comes close to the end of its daily 2,438-mile trip to Emeryville/San Francisco from Chicago.
A suburban neighborhood is seen as Amtrak's California Zephyr comes close to the end of its daily 2,438-mile trip to Emeryville/San Francisco from Chicago.

President Donald Trump seems worried about getting reelected. That’s partially because polls suggest he’s losing his grip on a particular group of supporters.

“White suburban voters, particularly women, were key to his victory in 2016 but are slipping away from him,” The New York Times noted.

In late July, the president’s administration set aside the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, an Obama-era regulation designed to diversify the suburbs.

More from The Associated Press:

In a statement, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said the regulation known as AFFH, was “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with.”

It will be replaced by a new rule that reduces the burden on local jurisdictions to prove that they are actively taking steps to address historical patterns of racial segregation in order to qualify for HUD financing.

And the president has been tweeting lately about a “Suburban Lifestyle Dream.”

Writer Ben Zimmer broke down what he feels the president is really trying to do in The Atlantic.

The  political play here is not hard to decipher. Trump feels he needs to portray “the suburbs” as under an imminent threat to provoke racist fears among white voters. That threat, he implies, would come about from the diversification of neighborhoods encouraged by the Fair Housing Act, the provisions of which Biden has pledged to expand. And by couching the issue in terms of “the Suburban Lifestyle Dream,” Trump plays into a caricature of an idealized homogenous past, a white-bread  Leave It to Beaver image of 1950s suburbia. That image was always a lie, but it is instructive to see how the very words  suburb and  suburban have served historically as a kind of palette for painting racial, ethnic, and economic divisions on the American landscape.

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