We lost because our coalition broke down. It broke down because the Democratic party has abandoned a key constituency, failing to fight for its interests while nominally paying lip service to their concerns.
Union members and other working class people with similar concerns, shifted ever so slightly towards Trump instead of Clinton (when compared with Obama). They did this because they began to see Clinton, and the Democratic party, as a collection of global elites who were unconcerned about their livelihoods.
Trump saw that weakness and exploited it. He had a self-reinforcing explanation for every source of economic resentment there was. For those who wanted to believe immigrants were the problem, he pointed at immigrants. For those who wanted to believe the global bankers were the problem, he pointed at them. Those who knew there was a bi-partisan consensus that playing a global game of Risk to contain China and Russia was more important than ensuring people had jobs? Well he had an answer for them too. And the result:
Union households – long a stronghold of Democratic support – went for Clinton by eight points. That’s a 10-point drop from Obama’s total last time, and the lowest union support for a Democrat in the past 20 years. — Fox News
That is a stunning rejection of Hillary’s flip-flops on trade. Union households who had voted for the black Democratic president, who liked and trusted him, shifted their support to the billionaire charlatan because he said he would protect their livelihoods and they shouldn’t trust us because we were enthralled to Wall Street lobbyists who wined and dined us and hired us as well-paid lobbyists when we lost an election. This is why we lost the industrial mid-west as a whole.
Unions: Voters from union households supported Clinton over Trump by a 16 point margin, 53 to 37 percent. That's a decline from previous elections, when margins in favor of Democrats were routinely 20 points or more.
Trade: A majority of Michigan voters said that trade generally takes jobs rather than creates them. Despite Trump's strong anti-trade rhetoric, only 53 percent of these anti-trade voters chose him, with 40 percent instead picking Clinton.
Unions: Clinton's struggled with union households, normally a pillar of the Democratic coalition. There was no difference in votes between union and nonunion households today; in 2012, Obama won union households by 23 points.
— ABC News
But this was a symptom, not the cause. The cause of our loss was that the Democratic party has, over the past few decades, abandoned the working classes who looked to it to protect their economic interests. We have failed to protect unions from evisceration. We have failed to ensure industries that provide jobs at all skill levels stay in the US. We have failed to protect the safety nets our own party put in place during the FDR and LBJ administrations.
Union leaders, stuck with us. Why, I don’t know, probably out of institutional loyalty and because they fear the Republicans. For our part, we have done nothing for them for years. We’ve occasionally played defense against the worst anti-union GOP excess, but we have not helped them grow or truly been on their side since the 1990s. We richly deserve this drubbing.
Unless we reform ourselves, this break will become permanent and we will lose union members for good.
When the Kempers vote for Trump, they’ll be breaking with the leadership of their national unions, which have both endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. “I’m in the CWA, my wife is American Federation of Teachers, but we felt like the unions have left us, too,” said David Kemper.
— Daily Beast
Keep that last sentence in mind. Our fecklessness is about to undermine union leaders with their own membership. When that happens, there will be no going back. We will have lost the loyalty of organized labor, definitively.
PS. There’s a companion diary: We lost, what should the left do now?