Places like Arcadia tended to vote for Trump in the Republican primaries, drawn to his tough anti-immigration rhetoric. But of course many other places across the Midwest and Appalachia that aren’t dealing with an influx of Hispanic immigrants, or any immigrants at all, also voted for Trump in the primaries. What they have in common, besides being overwhelmingly white, is that they are often in a state of decline, and have been for a long time.
Surveying the ruin of their once-prosperous communities, many residents of such places have decided that outsiders and forces beyond their control must be to blame. The irony, of course, is that areas with high levels of immigration are often those that are beginning to reverse decades of decline, as newcomers bring new life and economic growth.
The overarching desire of many Americans, not just those in struggling cities and towns, is change. They want something to change for the better, even if they’re not sure what’s wrong or how to fix it. How else does one explain the phenomena of Obama-Trump voters — those who supported Obama because they wanted change, but when that change never materialized they turned to Trump? The New York Times interviewed a bunch of these voters, and they all said they felt let down. One man, a sales trader from Cleveland, told the Times he is voting for Trump for the exact same reason he voted for Obama: “He is the only person who can get in, I believe, and really bust out the Washington establishment.”