This was odd because so many analysts thought the suburbs were on a straight-line march into the Democratic camp. Upper-middle-class, college-educated white suburbanites have been trending Democratic for decades. Trump accelerated that in 2016. In 2018, Democrats got most of their House pickups in exactly these wealthy, educated, white suburban districts.
What Edsall finds “weird” is that those same congressional districts tended to vote Republican this time around.
What is weird to Edsall and impossible to Trump has the same explanation (and Edsall, unlike Trump, understands it): Millions of voters find Trump uniquely awful, and they vote explicitly against him and not for a particular party or candidate.
The corollary to this story is that in 2016, Trump drew perhaps the only politician in the world as off-putting as he himself was: Hillary Clinton.