Monday, the Washington Post surveyed a new book, a memo, and a detailed report for the Post itself, all of which take a look at swing voting patterns in parts of the country that went for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then shifted to President Trump in 2016. The Post attempts to synthesize the findings of all three items and concludes that people in these parts of the country feel a lack of respect both for themselves and for the president they voted for:

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who helped orchestrate Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory, has obsessively studied the “Reagan Democrats” in Macomb for more than three decades. He went back after the 2016 election to understand how Trump won Michigan and recently returned to conduct another round of focus groups. “Trump voters complain that there is no respect for President Trump or for people like them who voted for him,” Greenberg writes in a new memo summarizing his latest findings, with Nancy Zdunkewicz of Democracy Corps…

Respect is also a central undercurrent in “The Great Revolt,” a new book by Republican operative Brad Todd and conservative columnist Salena Zito…

“We voted for President Obama and still we are ridiculed. Still we are considered racists,” said Cindy Hutchins, a store owner and nurse in Baldwin, Mich. “There is no respect for anyone who is just average and trying to do the right things.”

“Our culture in Hollywood or in the media gives off the distinct air of disregard to people who live in the middle of the country, as if we have no value or do not contribute to the betterment of society,” said Amy Giles-Maurer of Kenosha, Wis. “It’s frustrating. It really wants to make you stand up and yell, ‘We count,’ except of course we don’t. At least not in their eyes.”…

Dan Balz, The Washington Post’s chief correspondent, spent the past 16 months interviewing voters in rural areas of the upper Mississippi River valley where Obama won but then broke decisively for Trump…

“One of the places I would agree with the hardcore Trump people, they’re tired of being treated as the enemy by Barack Obama,” said Dennis Schminke, 65, a retired manager at Hormel, the company makes Spam in Austin, Minn., an area just north of the border with Iowa.

You can just imagine the respect people in San Francisco or New York City would have for a guy from Minnesota who makes Spam for a living. But the disdain is often more specific than that. One 54-year-old from Cleveland told the Post he switched parties because he just got tired of being called a racist by Democrats:

David Miller, a white 54-year-old Ohio voter at a polling place in Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, pulled a Republican primary ballot Tuesday for the first time he could remember to vote in the governor’s race. Like many other voters, he felt he had been left behind.

“I mainly was a mainstream Democrat,” he said, before describing how that started to change before the 2016 election. “Every time I turned on the TV, there’s a Democrat calling me a racist and I just got tired of it.”

Which brings me to an opinion piece that appeared in the New York Times on Saturday. It was titled, “Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think.” The gist of it is that progressives often fail to realize how off-putting their moralizing can be to people who don’t share all of their views:

Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.

But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel…

Within just a few years, many liberals went from starting to talk about microaggressions to suggesting that it is racist even to question whether microaggressions are that important. “Gender identity disorder” was considered a form of mental illness until recently, but today anyone hesitant about transgender women using the ladies’ room is labeled a bigot. Liberals denounce “cultural appropriation” without, in many cases, doing the work of persuading people that there is anything wrong with, say, a teenager not of Chinese descent wearing a Chinese-style dress to prom or eating at a burrito cart run by two non-Latino women…

Even if liberals think their opponents are backward, they don’t have to gratuitously drive people away, including voters who cast ballots once or even twice for Mr. Obama before supporting Mr. Trump in 2016.

In other words, the smug attitude taken by a lot of progressives on these issues is one reason why people who once voted for Obama wound up voting for Trump. And it’s very possible they’ll do so again in 2020, especially if the left doubles-down on the condescension. Put another way, all Democrats have to do to succeed is put a cork in the smug, so why can’t they seem to do that?

My own take is that the condescension being noted by people in the middle of the country isn’t some sort of side-effect of progressivism which can be worked out. For many on the left, looking down on others is a feature, not a bug in their politics. There are a lot of people who bitterly cling to their anti-gun, anti-religion politics as a sign of their own superiority. There’s just no way to express that sort of moral superiority without having someone inferior to look down on. But the people they look down on can feel that disrespect and they don’t like it very much.