Much digital ink has been spilt analyzing the 2016 Presidential election and the voter dynamics that led to the surprising result. Most of the political navel gazing has focused on Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania – formerly part of the Democrat Party’s “Blue Wall” strategy that faithfully served all Democrat candidates since the 1992 election. Pundits, analysts, and Clinton’s campaign leadership fatally counted on these three states as a given. Trump in turn benefitted from the naiveté of the political newcomer and shrewdly recognized that the working class in those states might resent the policies of both parties that have contributed to their hardship over the past several decades.
This journey and these discussions are not intended to further rehash the 2016 result and its underlying root causes. Nor are we inclined to debate the weaknesses and strengths of our 45th President. If you are looking at this web-site for a full-throated defense of all things Trump, you will be disappointed. Similarly, if you expect a “resistance” blog dedicated to the evils of the Orange One, we will not meet your expectations. We are looking for insight and understanding, not confirmation of our pre-existing biases, though they are legion.
We seek to understand “What’s Next?” Whether Trump is a successful two-term President or whether he leaves office in the ignominy of a 2020 defeat, an impeachment, or a resignation, this nation has crossed a political watershed and we are entering the Chinese curse of “interesting times.” Some movement, some call to action, some leader will follow Trump. What is it that the people in these three states are looking for?
America is incredibly diverse in political thought. Analysis from anything short of polling a large, statistically significant sample size should be taken with a large grain of salt. But we are not political scientists. We are not publishing research. We thought, “Why not talk directly to a small sample of the people who shocked the rest of the country in 2016?” Our target list of 14 counties is not THE definitive grouping that drove the 2016 election. One can derive a multitude of scenarios across many large battleground states where a few counties can swing an election. We focused on a set of counties that satisfied three conditions: (1) the collective margin of victory for Trump in each state from this set of counties was enough to provide the electoral margin of victory, (2) the margins of victories in the Presidential race swung widely from the 2012 election to the 2016 election, from 20.9% to as much as 33.3%, and (3) the counties suffered from some of the worst conditions in their respective states in terms of average income, unemployment rates, educational attainment, and suicide rates – factors that correlated strongly with observed swings in the margin of victory from the 2012 election to the 2016 election.