Donald Trump is president because he won about 78,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He’s also president because he beat her more soundly in Florida and Texas and so on, sure, but it’s those 78,000 votes that have captured the public’s imagination. Why? For one thing, those states collectively had backed the Republican precisely zero times in presidential contests from 1992 to 2012. Moreover, those states reinforced the argument that Trump had made from Day One: Disaffected working class-white voters in the Rust Belt would put him over the top. Polling missed this surge and so, too, did media observers like yours truly — leading to a barrage of “what’s going on with working-class whites?” analysis.
The Atlantic has entered the fray on the strength of a poll conducted in partnership with PRRI. Their analysis suggests that cultural anxiety, not economic stress, pushed those voters to endorse Trump. This agrees with exit polling, which showed that those most worried about the economy preferred Clinton in all of those states — and in most other states, too.