In an article about the political demographic of wine moms, an illustration of someone holding wine in front of a TV screen.

Susan v. Trump: The Importance of the Wine Mom Demographic in Politics

These women played a major role in getting Biden elected as president, but is their shallow activism enough?
September 6, 2021
7 mins read

The idea of the “wine mom” draws a particular image. A mother, usually in her middle age, comes from an upper-class background with no care in the world or perhaps too many cares. They may be named “Susan” or “Cheryl,” names that hold certain stereotypes just like a “Karen” or a “Brad.” They reside on their beach house patios, consuming charcuterie, before heading back to their gated community in some Northeastern or Midwestern state. These images are at best insignificant, and at worse, carry connotations of exuberant privilege and arrogance. Still, this demographic can be more influential than people may think.

We all recall election night last year. Several states, such as Georgia and Arizona, were won on razor-thin margins. Trump would only have needed to change about 40,000 ballots to tie with Biden in the Electoral College. Every vote counted. Arizona and Georgia were a significant achievement for the Democrats among Biden’s wins, flipping them after years of Republican domination. A reason for these flipped states was their increasing suburbanization. Educated families from big blue cities come to settle down in wider pastures. With rich liberal families come rich liberal mothers. These suburban moms serve as a fascinating political demographic, determining the outcomes of elections and participating in surprise activism.

As stated prior, wine moms are a distinct entity. The presence of wine implies two essential traits. One is wealth. These women are privileged, able to afford that decades-old bottle brought out for just the right occasion. They live in ornate houses, but not precisely mansions. They are not the one percent, but they can afford the wine. Two is withdrawal. Wine is calming, at least I assume (I’m below 21). These moms do not fit the label of “Karen.” They do not yell at managers or hurl unnecessary insults but are rather sincere in relationships. They exude the warmth only a glass of alcohol can provide. They are liberal, well-educated and maybe occasionally problematic. They love their families and hate bullies. Of course, what does any of this have to do with politics?

Wine moms are apolitical. They do not think about systemic issues, such as racism or capitalism. They are not revolutionaries but avid fans of the status quo. However, they have specific values and morals taught by their stable upbringing and refined education. They believe in respect, equality and honesty. Maybe not socialism. Their education has taught them the importance of civics. For them, to vote in an election is part of a routine. This demographic does not need to worry about disenfranchisement or a candidate’s troubled past, so their morals may form the sole crux of their choices.

If anyone violates the morals of “wine moms” more, it would be Trump. He is disrespectful. He insults, fires or stages insurrections against any opposing party. A bully and a bigot, he has no positive traits they would find appealing. I have grown up in a community of “wine moms.” I have been an insider to their squabbles and one consistency is their hatred of Trump. This hatred comes from their belief in essential ideals such as respect, ideals that Trump violates. Their criticism focuses less on the system that elected him in the first place but instead on his immediate actions. This supposedly apolitical group gets fired up around a political figure.

The Trump dislike among “wine moms” has led to political ramifications. For the first time, these moms are activists. A popular term during the Trump era was “the resistance.” This terminology was not established by antifa but rather by the average suburbanite. They have participated in grassroots organizing, fundraising for Democrats, voter registration and more concentrated efforts to take down the nation’s biggest bully. The term “resist” carries many different meanings, but it generally implies a rebellion against some great force. That rebellion would play out in the 2020 election.

The votes of suburban women were a significant benchmark in Biden’s win. He managed to win a slim majority of female ballots in Arizona based on exit polls, compared to a minority of men. This pattern held across the states, with Pew Research finding that Biden made gains with suburban voters, receiving 54% of the vote in 2020 compared to Hillary’s 46% in 2016. The women who make up these areas likely played a role in this shift. Isolated mobilizations that began in the grassroots of gated communities led to more significant change. However, how much change?

The “wine mom” resistance did contribute to a Biden victory, but they were not the catalyst. The majority of women who voted for Biden came from marginalized communities and urban areas, not the suburbs. The majority of white women (55%) still voted for Trump despite his misogyny. Changes in states like Georgia result from women like Stacey Abrams mounting mass campaigns for voter registration, efforts the “wine mom” demographic assisted in but did not spearhead. The reliable Democratic demographics, like the “moms,” voted how they usually do. They voted in greater numbers and made more calls, contributing to the largest election turnout in history. They impacted Trump’s loss, yes, but the influence only goes so far.

This limited influence is also due to the philosophy of these mothers. They believe values that Trump seemed to counteract. Not the political establishment, not poor voting policies, but a single man and the party that worships him. A running joke for some on the left is that the moms would go “back to brunch” after the election. They return to their gated communities after fighting off Orange Man, maintaining their faith in the new president Biden, who respects people a lot more. Leftists are concerned that with Trump and his mean tweets gone, the moms will return to a status quo in which we can no longer afford to live.

Of course, the relative political unawareness of this demographic has benefits. You have these wealthy women with many resources at their disposal. They remain unaware of many political issues, empty space perfect for a more progressive mindset to inhabit. The ignorance of “wine moms” is not solely from a lack of concern but a bubble. If activists were to pop this bubble and educate them on important issues, they could become a vital, consistent force in political activism. They have specific values and morals, opposing corrupt practices. If they were to be shown the destructive effects of disenfranchisement and lobbying, they would act. They simply need a new Trump: a person or idea to oppose. They will always drink their wine and talk over the table but what they discuss may shift again for the better.

Zach Terrillion, Oberlin College

Writer Profile

Zach Terrillion

Oberlin College

Hello! My name is Zach and I am a first year at Oberlin College in Ohio, though I am from Connecticut. You can find me talking with friends, cramming for classes, or often both.

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