Everything Depends on the Suburbs — Watch These Counties

Suburban districts have always been regarded as the battlegrounds in American politics. As demographic trends have created more diverse suburban areas lying just outside the densely populated urban corridors, exurban areas have become more competitive. In many cases, exurbs are the new suburbs of the 21st century. As the election nears, exurban and suburban counties will have an even larger impact on the scale of the potential Democratic victory.

Hillary Clinton is likely to amass substantial margins in swing state suburban counties, although a few of the Republican Senate candidates, locked in extremely close races, may run far ahead of Donald Trump. Still they may lose.

With that in mind, here is a list of emerging suburban counties in swing states to watch on Election Night.

Arapahoe County (Colorado)

We expect Hillary Clinton to perform well in the key counties that have come to define statewide contests in Colorado, which include: Adams County (7.0% expected vote share), Arapahoe County (11.2% expected vote share), Boulder County (7.0% expected vote share), Jefferson County (11.9% expected vote share), and Larimer County (7.0% expected vote share).

Arapahoe County may be particularly influential. The county has experienced rapid growth since the turn of the century; that growth has altered the composition of the electorate. In 2004, John Kerry lost Arapahoe County, receiving 48 percent of the vote. Conversely, President Obama carried Arapahoe in both 2008 and 2012, carrying the county by more than 28,000 votes in 2012. Not only will Hillary Clinton’s margin in Arapahoe have a big impact on her overall statewide margin, but it could decide the winner of the competitive House race in the Sixth Congressional District. Democrat Morgan Carroll will need a strong showing in Arapahoe County, which houses more than 70 percent of the expected vote in that congressional district.

Bucks, Chester, and Delaware Counties (Pennsylvania)

We anticipate that both Clinton and Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty will win Philadelphia suburb Montgomery County. Accordingly, we will be following the Clinton and McGinty results in Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties, which are more culturally conservative and further away from the City of Philadelphia. Delaware County tilts more Democratic than Bucks County and Chester County — President Obama received 60 percent of the two-way vote in Delaware County in both 2008 and 2012, whereas he faced much slimmer margins in Bucks and Chester County.

Taken together, these three counties are expected to contribute nearly 15 percent of the overall statewide turnout, and have a significant impact on competitive down-ballot contests. For example, Bucks County houses 89 percent of the expected vote in the 8th Congressional District, a competitive contest. (Read More)