Columbus’s growth, and the expansion of suburbs and exurbs into what used to be rural and blue-collar areas, might have once spelled an opportunity for Republicans. But under Mr. Trump the Republican Party has lost its footing among specifically these kinds of voters — and the growth in Franklin County, which includes Columbus, plays into Mr. Biden’s hands.
Mrs. Clinton barely had the advantage in the Columbus area in 2016, according to exit polls; this year, Mr. Biden appears poised to far outmatch her totals there.
“Trump’s support has peaked, and particularly in the suburbs, people are turning toward Biden,” Dr. Sutton said. “Some of them were Obama voters before that; some of them are dyed-in-the-wool Republican types. And in both cases, they’ve had enough of Trump, is what they say.”
In the case of disenchanted Republican voters, “they support the politics of his administration — lower taxes, deregulation, conservative judges and justices being appointed,” Dr. Sutton added. “But it’s Trump himself that they’ve had enough of. It’s not that they’re embracing Biden, but they’re ready to move away from Trump.”
The Quinnipiac poll found Mr. Biden with an approval rating of just 45 percent, while 49 percent saw him unfavorably. For Mr. Trump, the numbers were similar: Forty-five percent saw him favorably, 51 percent unfavorably.
While the president maintains a commanding lead among rural voters, recent polling has put him more than 10 points behind his 2016 numbers with this group. Dr. Cohen, the University of Akron professor, said that Mr. Trump had also worn on the patience of some in these areas, after making great promises to them in 2016.
“When he came to Ohio and told people to not sell their houses, that he was going to bring all their jobs back — and he clearly hasn’t — people pay attention,” Dr. Cohen said. “The people that worked at that G.M. Lordstown plant, they know the jobs haven’t come back,” he added, referring to a General Motors factory whose abrupt closure in 2018 Mr. Biden has sought to exploit on the campaign trail.