For more than two decades, political analysts have tried to understand national voting expectations by labeling moms in suburbia.
In 1996, the focus was on females with young kids labeled “soccer moms,” a reference to middle class women with hectic lives who transported their kids to various after-school endeavors. After the 9/11 attacks, the label changed to “security moms” who were mostly determined to keep their kids safe.
In the 2008 presidential campaign, thanks to Alaskan VP candidate Sarah Palin, the moniker switched again, to “hockey moms.” Since then, the broad-based branding of white, middle-class suburban moms frazzled by their duties and loyalties has expanded to a wide variety of extra-curricular activities embraced by their kids – team sports, gymnastics, dance, scouts, volunteerism, band and much more.
Now, we learn that the latest label – broadened dramatically to encompass all forms of child and teen activities – is the “Panera mom.”
The description comes from the healthy eating Panera Bread restaurant chain where salad, soup and sandwiches are the standard fare, and where many moms bring their “team” after sporting events and other activities. Some pollsters claim that these women, mostly college graduates, are the secret weapon for Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm elections for Congress, governor and state legislative seats.
In fact, some polls show that suburban women who were previously Republican voters or independents are dramatically moving toward Democratic candidates.
A recent survey of the 69 most competitive House districts nationwide – many of which are suburban – shows a Democratic edge propelled by women. The poll, conducted by The Washington Post and George Mason University’s Schar School, finds women voters in those districts backing Democrats over Republicans by 55 to 42 percent. Among white women with college degrees, the margin in favor of Democrats is 23 points. In 2016, college-educated white women chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by just six points.
Some political observers say the gender gap boosting Democrats in key House districts is unmistakable as support for Trump among women has dipped to as low as 33 percent in recent national polls.
According to the Five Thirty Eight website, nationwide suburban advantages alone could give the Democrats control of the House.
In Michigan, college-educated women in Oakland County, a once-stalwart GOP community — the second-largest county in Michigan — may provide dramatic Democratic victories on Tuesday up and down the ballot.