The Rust Belt Lost Clinton the Election, and Free Trade is Why

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Photo Credit: Bob Jagendorf

By: Jessica M. Rose

America and the world are staring down the barrel of a Trump presidency – and it’s because Democrats failed to execute a principle they are supposed to be known for.

The states that gave the election to Trump were Rust Belt states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. These states were part of what were called the Clinton firewall, that she needed – and expected – to win in order to go on to win the presidency. I am of course not making the claim that xenophobia, islamophobia, racism, and sexism among other issues played no terrifying role in the election. The crucial states in question, however, were blue for Obama and have been for decades; Pennsylvania and Michigan haven’t been red since 1988, and Wisconsin hasn’t been red since 1984.

Michigan and Wisconsin, according to the best pollsters out there at Five Thirty Eight, were not supposed to even be in play this time. Their best information had her chances for Wisconsin at 83.5%, for Michigan at 78.9%, and for Pennsylvania at 77%. To be fair, if she lost them, she lost them by a tiny margin: at the time of writing, Trump had 47.9% of the vote and Clinton 46.9% in Wisconsin with 95% of the vote in, and Michigan was still too close to call with a 0.3% difference between the candidates. But these states weren’t supposed to be margin-of-error states; Clinton was supposed to have them in the bag.

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