For ideological conservatives who weren’t thrilled with some of Donald Trump’s more liberal positions, there was a glimmer of hope in his nomination that couldn’t have been found in any other Republican candidate: Perhaps, with his criticisms of free trade, his “who cares” attitude towards the conservative social agenda, and his attacks on the Bush administration, he could draw in Democrats sick of the party’s ultra-liberal platform.
In the primaries, we saw the Trump effect at work. Democrats in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida, and elsewhere switched to the Republican Party in droves, helping the billionaire sail to the nomination. So-called “blue dog” Democrats, many of whom feel like the party has left them behind, saw in Trump a Republican they could finally get behind. In areas where outsourced manufacturing has destroyed communities, a candidate who promised to bring jobs back to America could not be ignored.
This weekend, Trump made his final pitch to five states that Hillary Clinton didn’t think she would have to worry about: Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Virginia.
“They’re getting a little worried,” Trump said Saturday. “You see, Michigan was never really in play for a Republican. But you know what? It’s in play for us because all of their cars are being made now in Mexico.”
But the time for talk is over, and now we’ll see if the Trump gamble paid off. Will those blue states come through for the unorthodox Republican nominee, or will they stay in the Democrat column?
Unfortunately, that’s not the only question. As Trump tries to make good on his promise to change the electoral map, some think that Hillary could make gains in reliable red states at the same time. A month ago, there were serious signs of trouble. Polls showed that Hillary might flip states like Arizona, Utah, and even Texas, leading to an unthinkable landslide. On the eve of the election, that seems unlikely to happen, but this has been a year filled with surprises.
As far as the big picture goes, it’s hard to draw any long-term conclusions from this race, no matter how the candidates divide their electoral votes. Neither Trump nor Hillary are typical nominees; both of them suffer from unprecedented levels of unfavorability. This election has been less about the issues than about the candidates themselves.
Even so, there is reason to believe that things won’t simply “go back to normal” in the coming years. Our country is changing fast.
We can only pray that those changes won’t destroy us.