Saturday, November 12, 2016

These Rust Belt Democrats Saw the Trump Wave Coming

Like labor unions everywhere, the local Plumbers & Pipefitters union in Ohio's Mahoning Valley—a historically Democratic bastion due to the influence of labor—endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in September 2015 and urged its members to vote for her. But unlike in years past, when Roland "Butch" Taylor briefed about 200 members on the union's support of Clinton and the prospective benefits of a Clinton presidency in May, the meeting didn't go well. "I got a lot of boos," he recalls. "I got a lot of chatter back. And out of the group, only one person came up and asked me for a T-shirt."

"Right then and there, I knew something was wrong," says Taylor, who retired a few months later. "I thought, 'Well, maybe it will change as the campaign moves forward.'"

As the results on election night show, it didn't change. Clinton fell well short of polls and expectations in the Rust Belt, losing two key swing states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and two that were thought to be safe bets, Michigan and Wisconsin. Working-class white voters, including many union members, banded together into a pro-Donald Trump force that the strategists in Clinton's Brooklyn headquarters didn't see coming until it was too late.

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