Published right after the election
Jim Tankersley, Washington Post, November 9, 2016 - For the past 40 years, America's economy has raked blue-collar white men over the coals. It whittled their paychecks. It devalued the type of work they did best. It shuttered factories and mines and shops in their communities. New industries sprouted in cities where they didn't live, powered by workers with college degrees they didn't hold.
They were not the only ones who felt abandoned by a rapidly globalizing economy, but they developed a distinctly strong pessimism in its face.
On Tuesday, their frustrations helped elect Donald Trump, the first major-party nominee of the modern era to speak directly and relentlessly to their economic and cultural fears. It was a “Brexit” moment in America, a revolt of working-class whites who felt stung by globalization and uneasy in a diversifying country where their political power had seemed to be diminishing.
It was a rejection of the business-friendly policies favored at various points by elites in both parties, which deepened trade relationships with foreign countries and favored allowing more immigrants in. And it was a raw outburst at the trends of rising inequality and economic dislocation that defined America's economy thus far this century.
Whites without a college degree — men and women — made up a third of the 2016 electorate. Trump won them by 39 percentage points, according to exit polls, far surpassing 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney's 25 percent margin. They were the foundation of his victories across the Rust Belt, including a blowout win in Ohio and stunning upsets in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Half of these voters said the economy was the most important issue in their vote, compared to 14 percent for immigration.