Despite the giant and devastating loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Biden campaign is continuing its slow and steady race toward victory on Nov. 3 by ensuring that voters keep their eye on the prize — the White House — and not just the coming fight over Ginsburg’s replacement.
That’s why Democratic nominee Joe Biden is focused on outreach to suburban women and making sure that everyone is registered to vote, rather than releasing a list of his potential nominees to replace Ginsburg if the Senate were to fail to confirm a Trump nominee. Cue Cindy McCain who made her endorsement of Biden official by appearing on all the morning shows Wednesday. In those interviews she mentioned that she is endorsing Biden because she is trying to reach suburban female voters.
“I’m hoping that I can encourage suburban women to take another look, women that are particularly on the fence and unhappy with what’s going on right now but also are not sure they want to cross the line and vote for Joe, I hope they’ll take a look at what I believe and move forward and come with me and join Team Biden and vote for Biden,” she said on TODAY.
In 2016, the Clinton campaign took those suburban female voters for granted, assuming they would turn out and vote for her on election day. But they swung to Trump instead: in fact, 47 percent of all of Trump’s voters were women.
But the suburban women who catapulted Trump into the White House swung blue in the 2018 midterm elections and now describe themselves as mostly “moderate” — which is why the Biden campaign is focusing on them. An analysis done after the 2018 midterm election found more than 80 suburban counties and cities — with high incomes and large number of college educated voters — voted more Democratic than in 2016, showing a huge gain and shift toward Democrats.
And as Trump rushes to push through a very conservative replacement for Ginsburg before the election, he may potentially alienate independent voters in addition to those suburban female voters, many of whom are mourning the loss of a cultural icon as much as a Supreme Court giant. Trump’s brazenness in moving forward with a likely divisive nomination should work to the advantage of Democrats in 2020, as it did in 2018: most polls suggest that, nationally, voters believe the winner of the election should fill the seat and, according to a CNBC/Change Research poll released Tuesday, 52 percent of swing-state voters believe Trump should not move forward with a nominee if he loses the election.
The Biden campaign isn’t taking either trend for granted.
It seems pretty obvious that anyone who plans to vote for Biden already knows that he will nominate someone to the Supreme Court who will be far and away better than any nominee Trump selects — and the CNBC-Change Research poll from Tuesday says that 51 percent of swing state voters agree. The ability to appoint a justice to the court is just one of the many reasons that people will vote for Biden, but who his potential nominees would be likely won’t be the defining issue for Biden voters as much as whom Trump nominates and what Trump does.
So, rather than get caught up in a tit-for-tat over the nomination battle, which will play itself out in the Senate anyway, Biden’s campaign has opted to remain focused on the fight ahead. And, if we want to honor Ginsburg’s life, we too must fight — for the soul of this country and to restore professionalism, dignity, compassion and decorum to the Oval Office. We can be upset about her passing, but we must press on to election day.
As Cindy McCain so eloquently put it Wednesday, “There is too much at risk in this election to sit on the sidelines. Everything this country stands for is on the line. I’ll be putting our country first and voting for Joe Biden.” Trump, of course, regularly paints those who are opposed to him as “unpatriotic” or un-American, so it’s notable that Cindy McCain, the wife of a war hero whom Trump personally derided, stated that, in fact, supporting Biden is the best thing we can do for our country.
Cindy McCain speaks directly to two key demographics that swung for Trump in the 2016 election and which Biden and the Democrats need to win back in 2020: independent voters and suburban female voters. The smartest and most strategic thing the Biden campaign can do is to focus its efforts on winning over these two demographics and turning them out on election day, rather than constantly pivoting to respond to the issue du jour, which is so often driven by Trump in any case. The only way to attract those voters back to a Democratic candidate is with the help of former and current Republicans whose endorsements of Biden can be pivotal to showing independent voters or former Trump voters that it’s OK to change their minds about Trump.
If we all don’t want to wake up feeling like we did on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, we need everyone engaged and ready to turn out the vote Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. No vote can be taken for granted this time; we must follow the lead of the Biden campaign and keep the eye on the White House.