It is important, then, to remember that Trump has left the Republican party in much better shape than Bush 43 did. The painter who shares candy with Michelle Obama gave way not only to his confectionery buddy as president, but also to three-fifths Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. After Trump, Republicans may still retain the Senate. They are within striking distance of recapturing the House.
Trump was once again competitive in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. That shows his performance in the Rust Belt was not a product of running against Hillary Clinton. He did nearly as well against Working Class Joe, even if he came up short. Had Trump maintained his 2016 level of suburban support, he would have once again won all three states and another four years in office. That was by no means guaranteed: Republicans haven’t really even competed in these states at the presidential level since the 1980s, with Pennsylvania in particular being the GOP’s great white whale.
This is yet another mark in favor of Trump. Unlike the authors of the famous Republican National Committee ‘autopsy’ following Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, Trump was actually able to deliver the voters who were crucial to his supporters’ theory about how he could win the election. He won vast majorities of working-class whites and was able to do respectably among Hispanic voters, especially in critical battleground states like Florida, and without betraying his base on immigration. Trump appears to have easily won a larger share of the Latino vote than John McCain and attracted nearly one in five black men to the Republican ticket despite minority outreach that was often as ham fisted as it was earnest.