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Friday, October 23, 2020

MomVote courts suburban mothers with Trump’s law and order rhetoric

Kimberly Fletcher is determined to register as many women ahead of Election Day in eight swing states, hoping to give “safety moms” an outlet for their frustration at the polls over the rioting going unpunished in cities across the country.

Ms. Fletcher, who is the founder of the conservative Moms for America, established MomVote to help educate and register suburban mothers — a key voting bloc President Trump has been trying to court with his law-and-order rhetoric.

“I would hope the president continues to focus on the big picture and the difference of a nation of law and order and a nation of chaos,” she told The Washington Times. “You know which side moms are going to vote on.”

Women aren’t just frustrated by the rioting. They’re also fed up with strict COVID-19 restrictions and closed schools.

“It’s literally like a tsunami of craziness that smacked them in the face all at one time,” Ms. Fletcher said. “We don’t accept the new normal.”

So far, however, the riots and rising crime in America’s cities hasn’t begun to close Mr. Trump’s huge gender gap in the polls.

Mr. Trump won 39% of the female vote nationally in 2016, while Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won 54%, according to Pew Research data.

His current numbers not only aren’t better but are slightly worse. In the latest Economist/YouGov weekly tracking poll, Mr. Trump got just 38% support from women, while Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden took 54%.

Mr. Trump has less support from women than recent Republican presidential nominees Mitt Romney and John McCain, who received 44% in 2012 and 43% in 2008, respectively, according to research by the Roper Center at Cornell University.

After being criticized by Republicans for not mentioning the riots during the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Biden denounced the chaos.

At the end of August, he spoke in Pittsburgh and asked Americans if they feel safer under Mr. Trump, saying the president made the country more dangerous.

“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted,” Mr. Biden said. “Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way.”

Still, the Trump campaign sees Democrats’ inaction in the face of mayhem as an opportunity to close the gender gap.

Campaign officials cite polling that shows voters who want peace restored are favoring the president over Mr. Biden, 74% to 16%.

They insist that his law-and-order message is working in critical swing states such as Pennsylvania, where the polls have been tightening — in large part because restoring “law and order” ranks among the top issues voters point to, with the economy and healthcare.

“No American wants to feel unsafe in their neighborhood or home, but Joe Biden and the Democrat Party have embraced lawlessness from their supporters that has left millions feeling uneasy,” said Samantha Zager, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign.

Since May, violent rioting has broken out in several cities including New York, Atlanta, the District of Columbia, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, and even Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the police shot a Black man, Jacob Blake seven times in his back, leaving him paralyzed.

Ms. Fletcher’s organization focused on swing districts in Minnesota and North Carolina in 2018, and the conservative candidate won in the areas they targeted.

This time, the targets are North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Virginia.

Minnesota wasn’t originally at the top of the list this year, but women in the state contacted her to volunteer.

Minneapolis was the first city to see rioting this summer after George Floyd died while in police custody in late May.

Since then, the president’s supporters say the state could be in play as residents grow tired of the unrest. It’s a state that he lost by about 1.5 points in 2016, but where a Republican presidential candidate hasn’t won since 1972.

The RealClearPolitics average in polling has Mr. Biden ahead there by 10.2 points.

Ms. Fletcher said polling can be deceiving because the surveys usually track registered voters. She said many of the mothers she comes across through her outreach haven’t been registered in the past and aren’t usually political, though they are registering this year because they’re tired of the unrest.

“My hope above all hope is that this silent mass majority of conservative women of faith is going to shock the pants off of everybody and just come out and vote when they haven’t voted,” she said.

Mr. Trump hammered home his pledge to combat rioters at a campaign rally last week in Wisconsin, saying the eruption of lawlessness should make the Election Day decision an easy one.

“You have law and order on one side and chaos on the other,” Mr. Trump said to cheers.

But Kenneth Mayer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said state polls haven’t moved much in the past few weeks, suggesting the president’s rhetoric is falling flat.

“It is not as if the law-and-order message resonates with undecided or swing voters, and that’s the difference,” Mr. Mayer said. “There really isn’t any reliable evidence that there are a lot of voters in this category that are potentially moveable nor evidence that voters in this category are actually persuaded by this message.”


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