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May 6, 2018

SALENA ZITO: The 2016 election was far from a fluke.

America’s political experts got it wrong in 2016 — not because they took too few polls, but because they made the false assumption that American elections are immune to societal change.

They are, in large part, still getting things wrong, not only by failing to understand a new group of voters who put President Donald Trump in the White House but also by ignoring why they voted the way they did.

When explaining the Trump voter, the media usually offers portraits of isolated, uneducated, working-class rubes who are driven by anger, race and nationalism. To the experts and those who didn’t support Trump, it’s hard for them to see it any other way.

And while the media obsesses over the future demise of the president, they aren’t pausing to consider the strength and durability of the coalition that swept him into office.
They aren’t asking why people in the Rust Belt counties who voted for former President Barack Obama twice suddenly switched to Trump.

But they should. Because Trump was not the cause of this movement, he was the result of it. In order to fully appreciate his rise to the White House, you need focus on the people who put him there.

That of course, is what her terrific book (with Brad Todd), The Great Revolt, does. But here’s a thought: I’ve been reading an advance copy, and it sounds like a preference cascade among a lot of traditionally Democratic voters. Now you’ve got black voters teetering on the brink . . .