‘He’s just fanning the flames.’ Trump’s vow to protect suburbs rings hollow in one

Gaby Anderson moved to this upscale bedroom community north of Atlanta eight years ago, drawn by its suburban amenities: robust public schools, lavish homes and sleepy cul-de-sacs.

But as an undecided voter, the 50-year-old manager of a healthcare practice is skeptical of President Trump’s dire warnings that Democrats will “demolish the suburbs” and that only he can protect their way of life.

As Trump tries to woo what he calls the “suburban housewives of America,” Anderson says he is stereotyping suburban women and harking back to a bygone era.

“I picture in my head Dick Van Dyke’s wife… a white woman in an apron,” she said. “I’m white and I live in the suburbs, but I don’t feel like I’m this suburban housewife terrified of everything going on around me.”

While Anderson isn’t yet sold on Democratic nominee Joe Biden, she thinks Trump’s hardline approach to the protests roiling Kenosha, Wis., Portland, Ore., and other cities ignores their root cause: police violence, systemic racism and lack of investment in inner-city schools.

“At this point, with all of the unrest, there’s a part of me that feels like if we vote for Biden, then the country would calm down a little bit,” she said. “If Trump wins again, all hell’s gonna break loose.”

Suburbs are always a battleground in presidential races. This year, Trump is targeting suburban voters with a racially charged tough-on-crime message that contends urban unrest over police shootings of Black men — which has led to violence in some communities — could endanger quiet communities like Johns Creek.

But Trump’s message risks alienating some who live in the nation’s suburbs, home to 175 million Americans and a diverse range of ethnicities and political views.

“There’s no homogenous suburb,” said Deirdre Oakley, a Georgia State University professor who specializes in urban geography and neighborhood change.

For decades, Johns Creek was staunch Republican territory, represented in Congress from 1979 to 1999 by Newt Gingrich, who served his last four years as House speaker. Trump won it by just 1% in 2016, but the district flipped in 2018, ousting a Republican incumbent and electing Democrat Lucy McBath.