In 2016, during the Presidential Election, the political Blue Wall was breached in the Great Lakes, granting Trump a series of critical, razor-thin victories in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It was in the Great Lakes that Trump saw just enough of an increase in support to break the Blue Wall. Turnout increased statewide in Pennsylvania, but declined in Philadelphia and was up only slightly in suburban areas. Trump won the state by only 80,000 votes despite large losses in the state’s urban and suburban areas. This paper will explore the origins of the political Blue Wall, which states are included, and how each of them played a part in Donald Trump’s eventual election victory. A populist wave that started with Brexit reached the U.S. in a stunning manner in November 2016. Donald Trump won the presidential election in one of the greatest upsets in America’s political history.
The election was historic as it left Republicans in a strong electoral status than before. Virtually, no political analyst saw Clinton’s fall especially in the Blue wall states. In a briefing to politico before the Election Day, the Republican National Committee indicated that Republicans could lose in those states. The blue wall not only cracked with Donald Trump’s win in Michigan, but crumbled as he also won in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (Bitecofer, 2018).
From the onset, Trump had clearly indicated that he would surpass the Republican base and would challenge Hillary Clinton in states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, among others. He appeared severally in these states with an apparent goal of winning the electoral vote. He definitely had to capture a number of Clinton’s prospective core states for him to win (In Schultz, & In Jacob, 2018). Trump’s campaign dissuaded and targeted potential Clinton voters with particular messages and energized white working-class small town and rural voters with financial populist appeals. He was a presidential runner who actually recognized the significance of working-class whites.
Even though Trump lost the popular vote (48.2 percent to 46.1 percent), he managed to win the Electoral College with over 300 votes. Key to his victory was the breaking of the blue wall, which had never elected a Republican for decades. One of the most outstanding results of the presidential election was the geographic domination that President Trump enjoyed in Michigan. Embedded in this element of Trump’s win in Michigan, was his capability to triumph in places where other republicans were unable to win. Trump also won many other swing states nationally, that former president Obama had won, including Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Florida.
Donald Trump gutted the conventional perception that had become a democratic and demographic gospel in recent cycles – that Blue wall states would always be Democratic corner-states. He broke through the Democratic Party’s ‘Blue Wall’ states, formerly considered to be Hillary Clinton’s failsafe. Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, were part of this ‘Blue wall’ that many people thought would fall into the column of Democratic candidates. Since 1992, these states had always supported democrat’s presidential candidates and this was considered to be a challenge to Trump.
According to analyst Ruy Teixiera, Trump’s single most crucial factor in his win was the staggering 39 percent margin amongst white non-college (working-class) voters, which compares to a smaller 25 percent republican advantage during the 2012 election. Donald Trump garnered the Electoral College victory, in spite of losing the popular vote. A leading justification for Trump’s win is that he directly appealed to white, working -class voters, and combined anti-immigrant rhetoric with trade protectionism as part of his agenda of ‘making America great again.’ Trump beat Clinton by almost 50 points amongst blue-collar white men, and almost 30 points amongst non-college educated white women.
His non college support ranged from 62 per cent to 66 per cent, which represented sharp variations toward the GOP, especially in Rust Belt states such as Wisconsin and Michigan. This tremendously high working-class support rate, and the weaker minority support rates for Hillary Clinton, became the notable demographic story in the 2016 presidential election (Denton, 2017). Wisconsin, for instance, is a competitive State with a big populace of white, working-class democrats. Whites without college degrees were negative towards Clinton, had weaker views of the economy, and were negative about immigration. These were some of the reasons that they voted for Trump who had promised change.
Trump got a narrow victory in Florida, and in the three Rust Belt states: Wisconsin by 0.9 points, Michigan by 0.2 points, and Pennsylvania – 1 percent (Denton, 2017, p.299). Trump used targeted online messages with the aim of activating ‘white identity politics’. Coupled with Clinton’s unpopularity amongst whites working-class, as well as rural voters in the states, this messaging interacted with Electoral College votes to give Trump the presidency. His victory in those states was broadly observed as a part of his petition with blue-collar manufacturing voters.
Though critics condemned Trump’s vicious attacks on Muslims and Mexicans, he clearly knew that hostility toward globalization and immigration was deep among a number of American voters. Trump’s decision to center on trade and immigration paid off as he did particularly well in the blue wall states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, all of which have huge numbers of white working-class voters. While Clinton was blamed for downplaying overt class appeals, Trump presented protectionist messages that seemed to appeal the traditional blue-collar, Democratic Mid-western voters (In Green, In Coffey & In Cohen, 2018). He also took a critical stand on free trade that held the Clintons responsible for NAFTA. He attacked corporate greed, as well as the closing of industries that moved to Mexico.
The 2016 presidential election was one of the greatest upsets in America’s political history. President Trump won many swing states nationally including Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Florida. In addition, he was able to capture a number of Democrat’s prospective core states that led to his victory. Unlike his opponent, Trump was a presidential contender who recognized the significance of working-class whites. He presented protectionist messages that seemed to appeal the traditional blue-collar, Democratic Mid-western voters, with the aim of promoting his agenda of ‘making America great again.’