YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — In May 2016, David Betras, a Democratic Party leader in the heart of industrial northeast Ohio, sent a memo warning Hillary Clinton’s campaign that it was on the verge of losing Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan because she was not connecting with blue-collar voters. These states “should be easy wins for us,’’ he wrote.
He said he got no answer.
As he sees it now, Democrats are still just as out of touch.
In a Trump vs. Clinton general election, I think Trump would win Pennsylvania.
When Obama ran in 2008 Gov. Rendell supported Clinton. Mostly, I think, because he thought Obama would win in Philly but not much of the rest of Pennsylvania.
Governor Rendell’s line of thought dates back to President Andrew Jackson:
“SINCE Donald J. Trump shot to the top of Republican polls last fall, pundits have tried to make sense of his popularity. He has been described as a modern-day product of reality-TV narcissism, or the second coming of European fascism. But as he cruises into the South Carolina primary after beating his rivals by double digits in New Hampshire, it’s clear that neither idea quite explains his strength.
Mr. Trump’s rhetoric resonates with a particular American political tradition. Voters may not know the details of that tradition, but they feel it viscerally when a politician taps into it. Mr. Trump has done just that by emulating a classic model of American democratic leadership.
A clue as to just which leadership model can be found on a map. While Trump fans are spread across the country, they are heavily concentrated in and near the Appalachian states — from Mississippi and Alabama all the way to western Pennsylvania and New York. The northwest corner of South Carolina is one of the most pro-Trump parts of the country…
Consciously or not, Mr. Trump’s campaign echoes the style of Andrew Jackson, and the states where Mr. Trump is strongest are the ones that most consistently favored Jackson during his three runs for the White House.”
That thing about Governor Rendell thinking Obama would not win Pennsylvania has been turned around in this election.
Donald Trump may have his strongest support nationally and in Pennsylvania from the very same kind of Democrats that, back in 2008, Governor Rendell envisioned voting for Hillary Clinton and not Barack Obama.
“Donald Trump holds a dominant position in national polls in the Republican race in no small part because he is extremely strong among people on the periphery of the G.O.P. coalition.
He is strongest among Republicans who are less affluent, less educated and less likely to turn out to vote. His very best voters are self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats. It’s a coalition that’s concentrated in the South, Appalachia and the industrial North, according to data provided to The Upshot by Civis Analytics, a Democratic data firm.”
“The Democratic Party has lost its voice to speak to people that shower after work and not before work,” he said. “All we’re saying is he won’t turn over his tax returns. He’s saying, ‘I’m fighting China to get you better jobs.’”
He added: “They don’t care about his taxes — they just don’t.’’…
The president is “punching China in the face” with tariffs, while the “leading candidate on our side is saying China is not even an issue,” said Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat whose district includes Youngstown and who is himself a presidential candidate. “If we go into the election with that as our message, we’ll get beat again.”…
Mr. Ryan, who is not well known beyond Ohio, criticized Mr. Trump for lacking a plan to rebuild American industry. But he agreed with the president that China is the No. 1 threat and that a new type of Cold War over trade may be looming…
Matt Borges, a former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, said a fundamental demographic realignment has taken place under Mr. Trump. “We’ve traded off suburban Republicans who may never find their way back to the party for that white working-class traditional Democratic voter, who has been more and more alienated from their party’s rhetoric,” he said. “Is this a long-term gain for Republicans here? Yes.”…
In a region like northeast Ohio, it is difficult to untangle the president’s appeal on economics from his tapping of resentment toward demographic and cultural change
Even though the Mahoning Valley was settled by immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe drawn to the steel mills in the 1920s — there are a dozen Eastern Orthodox churches in Youngstown — a palpable hostility toward newer waves of immigrants is routine….
“He’s allowing these workers to say, ‘I don’t have a good job because of these immigrants,’” Mr. Betras, the former Democratic chairman, said. “That’s not true. But he’s got a voice.”
“There’s an underbelly of America that America doesn’t want to accept about itself, and he speaks to it,” he said…
"Meanwhile, mainstream Democrats shake their heads in confusion and fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of grassroots organizing, which is where all of this happens."