Biden relied on suburban women to help win in 2020, and his campaign is trying to keep them in his coalition this year

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DETROIT — Suburban women were a critical voting bloc for Joe Biden in the 2020 election — and they may play an outsize role in key swing states again.

Marcie Paul is an organizer of Fems for Dems, a group that formed in early 2016 when the founder sent an e-mail to friends that said she planned to help elect the first female president. After Hillary Clinton lost that election, the group turned its attention to booting then-President Donald Trump from the White House in 2020. 

“Trump is revolting,” Paul said, adding that she thought Biden was doing a better job than she had ever expected.

With Biden struggling in recent polls among several demographics, his pitch to suburban women about how he’s best positioned to fight against threats to democracy and preserve abortion rights may be a crucial outreach effort to help ensure his re-election. 

In the latest national NBC News poll, Biden is winning women by 10 percentage points (50% to 40%) over Trump. When it comes to suburban women, his lead drops to 6 percentage points (49% to 43%). And the two are essentially tied among white suburban women (Trump 47%, Biden 46%). 

“He doesn’t excite people the way Obama did,” Paul said of Biden. “But fear is a huge motivator.”

The fear she’s referring to is a dread that Trump will retake the White House. The NBC News poll found Trump leading Biden by 5 percentage points in a hypothetical matchup, within the margin of error.

Biden is trying to hone in on that fear. An ad his campaign is airing in Michigan is focused on reproductive rights, featuring a woman from Texas who describes having to carry her fetus to tnerm even though it was diagnosed with a fatal condition. 

“It’s every woman’s worst nightmare,” the woman says, blaming Trump for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

A Biden campaign official said the campaign has spent seven figures in Michigan so far on paid advertising.  

Still, the campaign faces multiple hurdles in the state. The coalition that supported Biden in 2020 is threatening to disband this time around. A Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll out last week found Biden trailing Trump among registered voters in Michigan 47% to 42%, which was within the poll’s margin of error. While the poll is on a general election contest that won’t take place for months — and a lot could change — it raises red flags for Democrats.

Waning Arab American support for Biden in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war has been well documented. So has the all-out push to secure the coveted endorsement of the United Auto Workers union. Still, a growing number of rank-and-file blue-collar workers are supporting Trump. 

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“I truly believe he (Trump) does want what’s best for the American worker,” said UAW member Scott Malemfant, citing Biden’s support for electric vehicles that Malemfant believes could threaten auto jobs. Trump also met with Teamsters leadership in Washington this week as he tries to peel off union votes nationwide.

Still, Biden appears to be the preferred choice for suburban women in Michigan so far. According to the same Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll, 47% of them prefer Biden, while 40% choose Trump. 

But in Michigan, the Biden administration’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war is also threatening his support among some Arab American women. Mother of four Lori-Kamleh Ajlouny lives in Birmingham, a Detroit suburb, and said the U.S. is complicit in genocide due to its strong support for Israel even as casualties mount in Gaza.

“I will not cast my vote for President Biden,” she insisted, even though she supported him in 2020. Instead, she plans to write in “Cease-fire. Free Palestine.”

“I am heartbroken,” she said. “I am so hurt that it’s a feeling of betrayal.”

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