Why Trump May Win Ohio And Pennsylvania

The every-four-years parade of journalists trooping out into the Rust Belt of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and their neighbors has begun.

Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have run their stories. You can Google them (fine, here's one), and the articles from smaller outlets that will follow, but I can save you some reading time, because they are all basically the same:


The Midwest is a mess. Nobody has jobs, middle-aged people are doing heroin and meth, and everyone is on food stamps. These people are angry as hell at, well, they say the government.

Trump and Hillary have been through (name the one small town you stopped in) and promised to bring back the old industrial jobs (Trump) or some hi-tech something (Hillary.) I stopped by a (diner, dive bar, waffle house, VFW hall) and talked to (name of the one guy you talked to.) He told me times are tough, but these people are tough. They built the mills, they pulled America up by its bootstraps. They'll make it. Drive east as fast as you can.

Understanding the Heartland

Most reporters act shocked to find people "out there" so angry. They can't understand why the "folks" take food stamps but think handouts are for lazy people. They can't understand why someone without health insurance, coughing up chunks of the asbestos they breathed in every day at the factory, opposes Obamacare.

The people the reporters speak with feel they got cheated. They worked hard, they paid taxes, they sent kids off to war (every small Midwest town has a memorial stone, if not three, to the local people who died in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq...) Then they got burned by, well, someone.

The lucky ones now work for minimum wage at a local Walmart full of junk made overseas. The rest visit the charity pantries, and spend their food stamps, not because they are lazy like "those people" (often, sadly, a code word for urban African-Americans), but because they are hungry. They wait like a cargo cult for the boom years to return, someday, somehow.

How Trump May Win the Swing States

Trump gets this at a visceral level.

He tells them it is not their fault, or his, though both share blame. It was the Japanese, or the Chinese, or some mythical Big Government, or regulations, or even the unions that gave the same workers higher pay and good benefits long ago. It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to play to a crowd angry and confused looking every four years for some answer, and some hope.

Trump is very aware of the unfocused anger in the Midwest, and is working hard to use that to get votes. If he takes the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, it will be because of that insight.