Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Voting Wars

White Working-Class Voters Turning to Trump?

In Wisconsin, Donald Trump must overcome his second-place finish in the state’s Republican primary — and a polling gap with Democrat Hillary Clinton

Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee
Presidential hopeful Donald Trump smiles while speaking at a campaign town hall event in Rothschild, Wis., April 2, 2016. Photo by Jacob Byk of the USA TODAY NETWORK - Wisconsin.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump smiles while speaking at a campaign town hall event in Rothschild, Wis., April 2, 2016. Photo by Jacob Byk of the USA TODAY NETWORK – Wisconsin.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Trump signs in her backyard. Trump magnets on her refrigerator. Trump buttons on her dining room table. Kathy Miller is the Mahoning County chairwoman for Donald Trump.

While handing out Trump signs in June at a Republican headquarters just south of Youngstown, Ohio, she was approached by a woman in her late 80s, who said, “I have never voted Republican in my life. Give me the biggest sign you’ve got.”

In economically struggling communities like Mahoning County — where most steel mills have closed — many white, working-class Democrats are voting for Trump, registration records and 2016 presidential primary results show.

“They’re just all fed up,” Miller said. “It may be the economy for some, it may be the school systems, it could be health care, it could be immigration, education, it could be anything. They’re just fed up with the direction of our country. Mr. Trump showed up at the right time.”

According to a November 2015 Public Religion Research Institute poll, 72 percent of Americans and 78 percent of white working-class Americans believe the country still is in a recession. A News21 analysis of the General Social Survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago also found that in 2002, the percentage of white Americans with hardly any confidence in the executive branch of the federal government was just under 20 percent; by 2014, that number was nearly 50 percent.

White Americans: Appalachia – America’s industrial decline from News21 on Vimeo.

“The disenfranchised voter who has lost their job as a result of policies affecting the coal industry and other heavy manufacturing jobs are feeling very frustrated with Washington,” said Rex Repass, founder and CEO of Repass, a national public opinion research and strategic consulting firm. “Even though many are historically Democratic counties, they have become very red and very angry.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Kathy Cramer also found discontent among Wisconsin’s mostly white, rural residents while researching her 2016 book, “The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Kathy Cramer, traveled Wisconsin to research her book, "The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker." She found rural residents, most of them white, were disillusioned with government and looking for a change. Photo by Jeff Miller of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Kathy Cramer, traveled Wisconsin to research her book, “The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker.” She found rural residents, most of them white, were disillusioned with government and looking for a change. Photo by Jeff Miller of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In April, Trump lost Wisconsin’s Republican primary to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Cramer attributed that to the influence of conservative Milwaukee talk radio hosts, who at the time allied with Wisconsin’s top GOP leaders against Trump. “Counties reached by Milwaukee media went for Cruz,” she said, “the others for Trump.”

Although polls show Trump trails Democrat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, Cramer said the Republican’s message likely will appeal to many rural Wisconsin voters.

“The thing that stuck out to me about the rural places is a sense that places like their communities are in particular getting a raw deal— that politicians don’t pay attention to their communities, public dollars aren’t allocated to their communities, and the city people making the decisions don’t have a clue about what is important to people in their communities or the struggles that they are facing,” she said.

Added Cramer: “Trump’s message seems to resonate … because he is saying, in effect, ‘You are right— you are getting a raw deal, and some undeserving others are getting way more than they deserve. We need to make drastic changes so that those people stop getting money/respect/attention at your expense.’ ”

Employment drops as jobs sent overseas

In Tennessee, after a clothing factory outsourced jobs and operations to Mexico, a county that voted Democratic in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections went Republican in both 2008 and 2012.

Mahoning County, Ohio, where Youngstown is the county seat, labors under the loss of the steel industry, and more than 6,000 voters have switched from Democrat to Republican this year.

Roy Rogergray, 71, has lived in Celina, Tenn., all his life and is voting for Donald Trump in November. He said he doesn't care for Trump's personality, but he agrees with most of his policies. Photo by Emily Mills of News21.

Roy Rogergray, 71, has lived in Celina, Tenn., all his life and is voting for Donald Trump in November. He said he doesn’t care for Trump’s personality, but he agrees with most of his policies. Photo by Emily Mills of News21.

Similarly, frustration over closing steel mills and rising health care costs has swayed nearly 5,400 voters to switch parties in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

And in one Kentucky county where residents frustrated with the demise of the coal industry voted about 31 percent Republican in the 2000 presidential election, they voted more than 72 percent Republican in 2012, even though a majority of its voters remain registered Democrats.

Factory closes, voters disillusioned

Clay County, Tennessee, used to be home to four garment factories. One of the largest was OshKosh B’gosh, a Wisconsin-based company. The children’s clothing factory employed between 1,500 and 2,000 people from the 1950s to the 1990s. With a county population between 7,000 and 8,000, everyone worked there or knew someone who did.

“Just about everybody who wanted a job, if they’d work, they had a job at OshKosh,” said Doug Young, director of the county’s Three Star Initiative, a program focused on improving bringing jobs to the area.

Racoe Inc., a military fabric cutting company, moved into the old OshKosh B'gosh factory in December 1997 in Celina, Tenn. Only six people now work in the 66,000-square-foot building that once employed up to 2,000 people. As the county's economy struggles, many historically Democratic voters are switching to the Republican Party. Photo by Lian Bunny of News21.

Racoe Inc., a military fabric cutting company, moved into the old OshKosh B’gosh factory in December 1997 in Celina, Tenn. Only six people now work in the 66,000-square-foot building that once employed up to 2,000 people. As the county’s economy struggles, many historically Democratic voters are switching to the Republican Party. Photo by Lian Bunny of News21.

The OshKosh factory shut its doors in November 1996 and moved its operations to Mexico, taking advantage of the cheap labor options the North American Free Trade Agreement provided. The agreement’s purpose is to establish a free-trade zone in North America by lifting tariffs on a majority of goods the United States, Mexico and Canada produce and trade with one another.

Almost overnight, unemployment spiked to nearly 30 percent as hundreds of northern Tennessee residents lost jobs.

Racoe Inc., a military fabric cutting company, moved into the old OshKosh factory in December 1997. Only six people now work in the 66,000-square-foot building.

Unemployment in Clay County, which is nearly 97 percent white, has evened out to a little more than 5 percent compared to the national average of 4.7 percent in May.

Yet the county still has a 24 percent poverty rate, and voters who historically have been Democrats are switching to the Republican Party. In March’s Republican primary, Trump won Clay County with 57.1 percent of the votes — more than double the votes Clinton got.

“I think his popularity is (because) just everybody is mad, and he is saying what they feel,” said Timothy Scott, the former Democratic chairman in Clay County. “There will be a lot of Democrats voting for him.”

Steel country loses jobs, goes GOP

In the Rust Belt of Ohio and Pennsylvania, steel was the dominant industry. But as those companies outsourced their labor to China, voters grew frustrated with the job loss. Forty years after its steel mills closed, the poverty rate in Youngstown, Ohio is just over 40 percent.

“The opportunities aren’t here,” said Frankie Susany, 50, who grew up in the area and now owns a small business. “What used to be a thriving city in Youngstown is brown fields, abandoned mills, abandoned buildings, abandoned factories.”

This handmade sign, made from a wooden pallet, declares support for Donald Trump in Clay County, Tenn. The area's poor economy is leading some of its traditionally Democratic residents to support the Republican billionaire businessman, who has promised to turn around the U.S. economy. Photo by Lian Bunny of News21.

This handmade sign, made from a wooden pallet, declares support for Donald Trump in Clay County, Tenn. The area’s poor economy is leading some of its traditionally Democratic residents to support the Republican billionaire businessman, who has promised to turn around the U.S. economy. Photo by Lian Bunny of News21.

Trump’s “Make America Great Again” message resonates with Susany, who said that when he grew up, young people who worked in the steel mills had great lives. They drove new cars and had their own places to live right out of high school.

“That’s what this election is about,” he said. “If we don’t change it now, our grandchildren are never going to know the America that (people my age) grew up in.”

In the March 2008 primary, just under 14 percent of registered voters in Mahoning County — where Youngstown is located — voted Republican. During this year’s state primary in March, more than 48 percent of the county’s registered voters voted Republican, and poll workers had to print additional ballots. More than 6,000 voters switched from Democratic to Republican this year.

In Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, which is 94 percent white with nearly a 10 percent poverty rate, 5,400 voters switched to the Republican Party to vote for Trump in the primary. The region’s steel factories shut down in the 1980s, and residents remain bitter about the job loss, said Blair Adams, a third-generation owner of K-Castings Inc., a manufacturing plant.

“All these people that are in this manufacturing area are definitely shifting (parties) because they understand that their jobs are at risk,” Adams said.

For generations in Kentucky’s coalfields, including in the town of Hindman, families spent most of their lives working underground in the mines. As those jobs disappear, some Democrats are looking to options outside their party for change and the chance for an improved economy.

Meanwhile, the government put environmental regulations into place, encouraging states to switch from coal to natural gas as a power source. Kentucky residents such as Ballard Combs, an 81-year-old former coal miner from Knott County, see Obama as the face of these changes.

“I loved the mines,” said Combs, who worked underground most of his adult life. “Obama shut them all down.”

Donald Trump waves to fans after entering a town hall event in Rothschild, Wis., April 2, 2016. Photo by Jacob Byk of USA TODAY NETWORK - Wisconsin.

Donald Trump waves to fans after entering a town hall event in Rothschild, Wis., April 2, 2016. Photo by Jacob Byk of USA TODAY NETWORK – Wisconsin.

Nearly 90 percent of registered voters in Knott County, which is 98 percent white, are Democrats because it’s what their families have been for generations.

But since 2008, the county has increasingly voted for the Republican presidential candidate. Both Combs and his father were Democrats, but he’s voting for Trump.

Knott County Clerk Ken Gayheart said registered Democrats come into his office daily to switch their registration to the GOP. When the coal companies left, Gayheart said no industries moved in to fill the vacancy.

“These old hills were never worth much,” Gayheart said. “We don’t do anything, we don’t make anything here in Knott County.”

Nearly 34 percent of the county’s residents live below the poverty line. In May, the unemployment rate was 10.5 percent.

“Eastern Kentucky is in tough shape, but a lot of rural America is in a tough time,” said Tim Marema, vice president of the Center for Rural Strategies in nearby Whitesburg. “Something needs to change. That’s the point for the residents on the Trump side.”

Taylor Gilmore contributed to this report. This report is part of a project on voting rights in America produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism distributed this report.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

40 thoughts on “Voting Wars: White Working-Class Voters Turning to Trump?”

  1. Tim says:

    How is this a change from the last election? I guess a couple of counties are a proxy for the rest of the country.

  2. Mama says:

    The Republican party really is becoming the party of the angry white guy (or gal, as it were). But Wisconsinites need to remember that our Republican Governor Scott Walker promised 200,000 NEW jobs and still hasn’t delivered. We’re proof that changing parties isn’t some magic pill that will make the misery in your life go away.

    Heck, the party doesn’t even matter when we remember that part of being a politician is convincing the masses that you’re somehow “different” than the other guy.

  3. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Working families have been screwed by the Left, forever, both in Wisconsin and in the US. No raises, no jobs, higher prices, lost net worths.
    Trump appeals to this.
    They cannot run the schools, kids cannot read. inner city families are really screwed.

  4. Mike Carey says:

    wisconsin conservative digest your comment is pretty funny, given that the largests cuts to public education have come from conservatives. The vast number oof outsourced jobs come from the owners of corporatins who invariably support conservative republican policies and politicians. Those smae corporations owned by conservatives control the wages people amake and the price they pay. And you blame the left.It seems if you are a “conservative” you lose the ability to think rationally. It’s more likely the white racist liar appeals to these voters baser beliefs, particularly about Africa_Americans and Muslims. Based on incorrect information given to them by, you guessed it, the conservative media!! and you still blame the left. Ignorance breeds ignorance.

  5. Vincent Hanna says:

    WCD you might be a pharmacist but you sure as hell are not an economist. Did you happen to read the story today about million of people being lifted out of poverty nationwide? And the unemployment rate is pretty low right now. And the state’s with the healthiest economies are run by Democrats. So sell your nonsense on your Facebook page. It doesn’t fly here.

  6. Jason says:

    Pew Research center recently stated that Trump was getting 15 percent of the black vote and almost a third of the Latino vote. I guess not only working whites are riding the Trump train.

  7. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    You are entitled to your opinions but not your facts. Churchill

  8. Jason says:

    Mike Carey, how is asking teachers to share in the cost of their health insurance and pension an education cut. Second, corporations left the United States because of crushing regulations and the highest corporate taxes in the world. Third, a small company such as Sendik’s can only pay what the market rate is. You would rather have federal workers come in and tell the Balisteri Family how to run their business. Have you been to many grocery stores. Your just going to give 50 employees a 50% raise and expect the economic forces to not change. Apparently, were all racist as well. The Vatican has a wall. China has a wall. Mexico is looking at its most southern wall to slow down immigration from South America. Let us not all forget the great socialist society of Denmark enacted the strongest “hatred of Muslims ” law just this year. Apparently all those Danish don’t want Muslims living off their welfare.

  9. Vincent Hanna says:

    The stories Trump lovers tell themselves to justify their xenophobia. “Hey look it’s not just America that hates Muslims so it must be OK!”

  10. Jason says:

    Vince, last I looked I have not seen any atheists approaching people and asking if their religious and if the atheist did not like their answer began stabbing.

  11. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Trump nailed it last night, won the presidency. I do not even like him.

  12. Vincent Hanna says:

    Jason Vorhees, that’s supposed to be a justification for xenophobia? Last I looked that has never happened in this country despite millions of Muslims living here. I’m more afraid of people like you than I am a Muslim that’s for sure.

  13. AG says:

    Jason Vorhees?? hahaha That’s funny.

    For the record though, regardless of whether this actually supports the argument or not, I know at least the twin cities mall attacker did ask “are you muslim?” before attacking.

  14. Vincent Hanna says:

    Ha debate analysis from another planet. Thanks WCD. Even the majority of Republicans said Clinton won. Frank Luntz’s focus group had 16-6 for her.

    Wow it happened once! Thank you for defending the xenophobe AG. You are on a roll. Trolls and now xenophobes. What next? In America you have a greater chance of being murdered by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim terrorist, but by all means ignore that inconvenient truth. I really hope you don’t subscribe to Jason’s anti-Muslim nonsense.

  15. AG says:

    I’m not defending anything except for facts. You said it hadn’t happened, so I pointed out the most recent case I was aware of where it did.

    I don’t believe we should only be concerned about one type of terrorist. Terrorism is a defining threat in the current age. Whether it is extremist Muslims, far right wing crazy people, or any form of domestic terrorists. I think taking active measures to prevent any of things makes sense, to a reasonable level. (Thank god we’ve done such a good job thwarting terrorist attacks in the last decade or the death toll could be much higher!)

    Just as a side comment, and this is not to lesson the threat of right wing nuts, but there are three reasons that talking point regarding the greater chance of getting murdered by a ring-wing extremist exists. 1. They don’t count the events of 9/11 when they came up with that statistic. 2. The government is doing a far better job preventing extremist Muslim terror plots than they are with lone right-wing extremists. 3. They don’t count a lot of acts by Muslim extremists as terrorism.

    https://apholt.com/2016/01/11/right-wing-extremism-vs-islamic-extremism-in-the-united-states-a-look-at-the-numbers/

  16. Casey says:

    Oh Vincent keep lying to yourself. Muslims cut complete strangers all the time. My mother was just cut by a Muslim after being knocked out by a Hindi. Hopefully the removed the whole growth but we’ll have to wait to hear from sub-saharan oncologist first.

  17. Vincent Hanna says:

    So you find Jason’s xenophobia abhorrent then AG, since you aren’t defending it?

    OK since 9/11 (15 years ago now) you are more than 7 times as likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than by Muslim terrorists. Fear-mongering xenophobia should be condemned.

  18. AG says:

    Xenophobia is abhorrent, regardless of who is perpetuating it.

    If you include 9/11, you’re 62 times more likey to be killed by a Muslim. Even if you take out 9/11, there have still been more deaths at the hands of Muslims than right wing extremists. Your numbers are from a poorly done study tha tdoesn’t include “lone wolf” Muslim terrorists. Finally, as a percentage of the population, Muslims make up a much smaller percentage of the population, thus making them in a sense a “greater threat.”

    I don’t see how it matters though since the vast majority of right wingers and the vast majority of Muslims are not a danger. However, the way you say right wing extremists are a bigger danger, you make it seem like it isn’t reasonable to control who immigrates to the US. Should we not do any background checks or do anything to make sure we’re not allowing terrorists into the country? I wish we could vet right wing extremists as well, but they’re already here… which is why we have terror watch organizations.

  19. Vincent Hanna says:

    Not sure about your source either. He’s cited by some right-wing sites but that’s about it. Basically every other expert on the issue doesn’t agree with his findings. You found the one contrarian.

  20. Vincent Hanna says:

    Yeah again I don’t think your source is credible AG. He’s like the one scientist who doesn’t believe in global warming. No other credible experts seem to agree with him.

    I have no idea what you’re blathering about. I never said anything about background checks or vetting systems.

  21. AG says:

    Well, you could just fact check what he’s saying… if you look at the incidents that he cites that they didn’t include you can see that indeed they were “lone wolf” attacks and were not counted in the original piece that says right wing extremists kill more.

    I think it’s kind of irrelevant though… because one doesn’t make the other less relevant. Don’t you think it’s reasonable allow immigration but do everything in our power to keep potential terrorists out? I personally believe there’s a middle ground between closing off all immigration and allowing a free for all… and I think you probably believe the same thing, even if we’re not quite on the same level between the two.

  22. AG says:

    I didn’t say you said anything about vetting and background checks… I was asking for your opinion on those matters.

  23. Vincent Hanna says:

    Of course we should carefully vet people coming into this country. Which is what we already do. Don’t know why you even need to ask.

  24. AG says:

    We probably do a decent job vetting those coming in through a legal process, but I think what these Trump supporters have an issue with are those who come in through outside the law. There’s no vetting there and unfortunately since the border is pretty porous, there’s no way to ensure people aren’t coming in that wouldn’t pass the background checking process.

  25. Vincent Hanna says:

    This is not advocacy for illegal immigration. Generally speaking Trump’s supporters believe all these illegal immigrants are invading America and either stealing jobs from hard-working Americans or committing violent crimes (or both), and generally speaking neither is true. It’s irrational fear generated by fear-mongering and xenophobia. Which is Trump’s entire M.O.

  26. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    That is pure BS Hanna. A lot of Dems and GOP, the working people screwed by Obama see that the immigrants are costing us lots of money different cultures do not fit in. The Elites that have their lives made like Hilalry and her ilk ignore that call them deplorables.

  27. Vincent Hanna says:

    Different cultures do not fit in? Wow. That’s a repulsive comment. So much for America being a melting pot. All cultures or just those dominated by brown people? You show your age with a comment like that WCD. Your comment is deplorable.

    You honestly think Trump isn’t elite? A billionaire born to a rich daddy? He is synonymous with elite.

  28. AG says:

    “stealing jobs from hard-working Americans” Ha! They aren’t taking jobs from hard working Americans, they’re taking them from the lazy ones. 😉

    I’m not as quick to dismiss the criminal element that joins all the “law abiding” (which is incongruent considering coming in illegally is… illegal) immigrants. What most Trump supporters don’t understand is that there is a difference between the crime rates of immigrants vs crime rates of undocumented immigrants. It doesn’t help that open borders proponents lump them together to try to show lower overall crime rates… all that does is further confuse things.

    Most of this though has to do with the drug trade and gang affiliations. I don’t see why having a secure border is unreasonable. Just because you think the crime rate isn’t that high, does not mean it doesn’t make sense to try to keep the criminal element out.

  29. AG says:

    Hey Vincent, I officially denounce WCD’s “different cultures do not fit” comment. 🙂

  30. Vincent Hanna says:

    There’s nothing wrong with desiring a secure border. Now if we could only deport WCD…

  31. Rich says:

    Page two of this article doesn’t seem to work…
    urbanmilwaukee.com/2016/09/25/voting-wars-white-working-class-voters-turning-to-trump/2/
    is identical to
    urbanmilwaukee.com/2016/09/25/voting-wars-white-working-class-voters-turning-to-trump

  32. Dave Reid says:

    @Rich Thanks… I removed paging so you should see the entire story now.

  33. Jason says:

    Vince, will you at least admit that there is an infection in Islam. I am not stating that all Muslims are evil. I question why were taking in for the most part young Muslim men, why not children or women? Can we help Syrian atheists or Christian as well. Can we ask the riches Islamic States such as Saudi Arabia, Quatar or the United Emirates to do more than accept no one. In fact, Vince I will do you one better. American employers actually prefer these immigrants over our own American workers. The U.S government is sending these immigrants to work sites and putting them to work over our folks.

  34. Vincent Hanna says:

    Infection like the way hateful bigots have an infection? Or misogynists? Those people have an infection. The way people who spend way too much time in Drudge Report and Info Wars have an infection?

  35. Vincent Hanna says:

    This one is for you WCD. Trump’s best bro Sean Hannity hates those darn overpaid elites in the media. Poor working class Hannity only made $29 million in 2015 and only has one private jet. You can’t make this stuff up.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/09/28/hannity-slams-overpaid-media-elites-then-journalists-respond-noting-his-29m-salary-and-private-jet/?hpid=hp_hp-morning-mix_mm-hannity%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

  36. J.R. says:

    I’m glad to know Obama is going to be overruled regarding the bill that would let Americans sue Saudi Arabia over the attacks.

    By the way, thanks for keeping us safe George!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cMlIsd0seo

  37. Tom D says:

    AG (post 28), although sneaking across the border is a crime, it’s not a felony, just a misdemeanor. And if you are “illegal” just because you overstayed your visa (you entered the US legally), that’s not even a misdemeanor, it’s just a “violation” (the infraction category below misdemeanor which also includes offenses like speeding, littering, and jaywalking).

    So, being an undocumented alien does not necessarily make you a criminal (unless you also believe that every speeder is also a criminal).
    http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2014/07/is-illegal-immigration-a-crime-improper-entry-v-unlawful-presence.html

  38. Tom D says:

    Jason (post 33),

    We are not “taking in for the most part young Muslim men”; most Syrian refugees admitted to the US are women and children (age 13 or younger).

    The numbers for the period October 1, 2015 thru late July:

    Men (age 14–50) 24.6%
    Women (age 14–50) 22.8%
    Children (age 0–13) 48.1%
    Older (age 51+) 4.5%

    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/administrations-syrian-refugee-target-passes-23-mark-03-percent

  39. Rich says:

    >>> some Democrats are looking to options outside their party for change and the chance for an improved economy.
    The calculus of “anything else has to be better than what’s here now” is a strange one, and frankly, to me, lazy (not stupid as parts of the media have suggested). Yes, we have a two party-system, but a party switch probably won’t deliver what you think it will, especially if you’re voting largely out of spite or group-think over a perceived problem.

    Take, for example:
    >>>Ballard Combs, an 81-year-old former coal miner from Knott County, see Obama as the face of these changes.
    >>> “I loved the mines,” said Combs, who worked underground most of his adult life. “Obama shut them all down.”
    No, “Obama” didn’t shut down the mines. Appalachian coal has been at a disadvantage since the 1970s opening of Wyoming — its far cheaper to strip mine the prairie than it is to deep mine the mountains. They held on while there was a strong export market (other countries have increased their own coal production) and because of geographical advantages plus, in certain cases, a product better suited for the task (Bituminous coal vs. Lignite). So to ignore all of the other factors and simply blame Obama, the Democrats, and then vote for Trump likely without any research into his platitudes is exactly that: lazy.

    The Donald might be closer on the Clay County / OshKosh example, where the timeline of that plant closing was more closely tied to NAFTA. But it is disingenuous to believe that OshKosh was not otherwise looking for ways to keep costs down anyway. Perhaps NAFTA opened a hole for them, but even without it, those jobs would be in Vietnam and still not in TN, unless the people shopping for OshKosh stop wanting to buy them for rock-bottom prices at WalMart.

    But the Donald is not going to magically get OshKosh to open a new plant in TN or anywhere in the USA by cancelling NAFTA or TPP or whatever. And even if he did, said new plant would use robots to sew and not people, so it would employ a fraction of what the old plant did.

    Where there probably have been failures is on the local level to re-equip a particular area for new lines of work. Voters should be angry at those levels for not re-marketing an area’s strengths after being tied to a single industry for so long (“all eggs in one basket…”, so to speak).

  40. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Thanks congress did something for Americans finally instead of the rich bastaris in Saudia.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us