The case for Donald Trump

Outside of the Mass. bubble, the president has a lot of support

A Boston Globe news analysis of the presidential election posed the question that’s on the mind of many blue-state activists right now: Are we really that disconnected from the rest of our country?

Political analyst Anthony Cignoli told the Globe that a large group of Democrats “are completely shell-shocked and demoralized” about how close the vote is – with the presidential race still undecided on Friday, in a year many Democrats were convinced would be a blow-out.

“For Democrats who see Trump’s unfitness as blindingly obvious, it is as if a significant portion of the country has been watching a different movie for the last four years,” the Globe reports. 

Joe Biden won with 65 percent of the vote in deep blue Massachusetts. This is a state whose entire congressional delegation is Democratic and where even the Republican governor refused to vote for Trump. But outside our blue bubble, what was the rest of the country thinking? Why is Trump so much more popular in such a large swath of America and why is the race so close?

Let’s look at a few swing states.

To state the obvious, different constituencies have different interests. In Florida, where much was made of Trump’s popularity with Cuban Americans, former Florida Republican congresswoman and Cuban-American Ileana Ros-Lehtinen explains in a Globe op-ed: Cuban-Americans are propelled to vote by concerns about individual liberty, lower taxes, smaller government, and a muscular foreign policy confronting Latin American dictators – values that tend to align with the GOP. Trump took strong stances against dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

More broadly, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada’s largest newspaper owned by casino magnate and Trump supporter Sheldon Adelson, was one of the few major newspapers nationwide to endorse Trump. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was another.

The Review-Journal editorial cites Trump’s record on job creation and the economy pre-pandemic, his criminal justice reform that freed many inmates from prison, the peace agreements he achieved between Israel and several Arab neighbors, and his conservative court justices. The Pittsburgh paper – which had not endorsed a Republican since 1972 — acknowledged its distaste for Trump as a man, but defended his record: the pre-pandemic booming economy and low unemployment rate, rewritten trade deals, and support for US-produced energy — such as a Shell petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania. The Biden-Harris ticket, the paper writes, “offers an end to fracking and other Cuckoo California dreams that will cost the economy and the people who most need work right now.”

A recent poll in Georgia published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that while voters preferred Biden on the pandemic and racial equality, they favored Trump on the economy – which was also the issue ranked as the top concern by the most voters.

In North Carolina, where Trump was boosted by support from rural and suburban voters, exit polls found that voters whose most important issues were the economy or crime and safety were more likely to vote for Trump. People who reported wanting a “strong leader” also favored Trump.

Meet the Author

Shira Schoenberg

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

The Guardian wrote that voters in rural areas broke overwhelmingly for Trump and they, too, frequently cited economic concerns as a primary motivator.

In many ways, despite being in the midst of a global pandemic, Democratic strategist James Carville’s famous 1992 axiom still applies: “It’s the economy, stupid.”