A year ago this week I drove through Ohio and Pennsylvania talking to people about the election. It wasn’t hard to see why many of them wanted Trump.
A year ago this week, I flew to Cleveland, rented a car, and spent the next ten days driving across eastern Ohio and Pennsylvania, stopping in small towns and cities to talk to people about the upcoming presidential election.
Like most journalists and political pundits, I thought Hillary Clinton would win, but narrowly, in part because of places like Trumbull County, Ohio, and Luzerne County, Pennsylvania—places that had historically voted Democrat but I thought might go for Trump. To use a now-cliché term, I suspected these “white working class” communities, many suffering from decades of industrial decline, felt left behind by the Democratic Party and ignored by the GOP. I thought voters frustrated by the establishment in Washington DC might just vote for a political novice like Trump, warts and all.