MONROE, N.C. -- The suburbs played a key role nationwide during the 2018 midterm elections, helping Democrats win control of the U.S. House.
Those communities will likely be critical again during the 2020 presidential election. In a battleground like North Carolina, small shifts in the suburbs could determine who wins the state and its 15 Electoral College votes.
So what do voters in those communities think at this stage in the campaign?
In Monroe, Vivian Roberts expressed concern about the president’s behavior, saying she tries to avoid the news.
“I think he’s doing more harm for our country, and dividing people with his comments and his attitude," she said. "It’s so undiplomatic to me."
Roberts voted for Donald Trump in 2016, eight years after backing Barack Obama. She is not sure if she will pick Trump again in 2020.
“You listen to the news and you think, what must other countries think of the United States?” she said.
Monroe is the seat of Union County, a longtime Republican stronghold and Charlotte suburb.
The recent special election in the 9th Congressional District shows Union County remains firmly in the GOP column, with Dan Bishop earning roughly 60 percent of the vote there.
Several voters in the county recently told Spectrum News they continue to back the president.
“I support everything Trump has done, from immigration to supporting Christian values,” said Debbie Whitley.
But even small movements there and in other North Carolina suburbs could be crucial come November 2020. Karl Campbell, an associate professor of history at Appalachian State University, said the suburbs are undoubtedly important.
“The cities are voting Democratic, increasingly. The rural area voting Republican,” he said. “So it’s gonna be the suburbs and the exurbs that are kind of, I think, determinative.”
Somewhat complicating matters: many people are moving into North Carolina, with the state recently seeing a net gain of about 85,000 residents annually from migration.
Many of them are relocating to urban centers like Wake and Mecklenburg counties, plus their suburbs.
In one of those suburbs - Apex, right outside of Raleigh - Ashesh Chatterje says he has noticed a change politically.
“You’re seeing this town, which was traditionally a red town, moving in a more blue direction as more people move in,” Chatterje said.
Over in Wendell, another suburb of Raleigh, David Williams and George Pope do not see eye when it comes to the president. They are friends and attend the same beer club.
Both agree the president's tone could be improved, citing among other things the president’s past criticism of John McCain.
“He acts like an immature 10-year-old, like a whiny little baby,” Williams said.
But while Williams has no interest in backing the president at the ballot box, Pope said he remains open to voting for Trump again in 2020, saying he supports his policy goals, like bringing industry jobs back to the United States.
“I think there’s still a lot of Trump supporters out there that believe in the ideology of purpose and goals and situations within the country that need to be taken care of,” Pope said.