The Washington Post shows glimmers of figuring it out, meanwhile publishing other stories that painfully do not.
The story that sort of gets it is headlined "Once a Clinton stronghold, Appalachia now Trump country." We know that Hillary killed her chances in Appalachia when she promised to put coal companies out of business, but it's more than that, as the article explains.
The paper notes that there was already a systemic shift in motion from Democrat to Republican because of the decline of industry and unions. I'll add to that the Democratic agendas for renewable energy, climate change and a tech-and-services economy. None of that sits well in West Virginia. Erstwhile proud union workers who once voted for Bill Clinton are now underemployed back-road rednecks unable to free themselves from a dying local economy. The shift exists not only in Appalachia, but also in the Rust Belt. Now along comes Donald Trump, talking jobs, trade, tariffs, immigration, Muslims and America First. Hillary never had a chance—not because Trump is a Republican (sort of), but because he's talking their language. Trump is Appalachia's dream candidate on the issues, regardless of the politics.
The WaPo has figured out that Clinton is screwed in coal country, but they continue to see it through a lens of Democrats versus Republicans. That misses the point. An unemployed father in Appalachia doesn't care whether Trump is a Republican or a Rastafarian.
Another WaPo article is a monument to not getting it. Chris Cillizza offers up a little electoral map proving that all Hillary has to do is win the 19 states (plus D.C.) that Democrats have won for six elections in a row, plus Florida, and she's the president. It's that simple.
Sorry, Chris, but past results do not guarantee future performance. I'm not a political nose-counter; I don't know the state-by-state electoral college dynamics, and I don't particularly want to. But I note that Florida has been a hot toss-up for over a decade, and the traditionally Democratic Rust Belt states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois could get itchy this year. Wikipedia tells me that in 2012, Obama took less than 53% of the votes in Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Game on.
But more than anything, Cillizza overlooks the fundamental fact that Donald Trump is not in an election about Republicans vs. Democrats or liberals vs. conservatives. He deals (as I keep saying) in anger and frustration, not political positions. He's a non-party candidate working undercover at the Republican Party. In the physics of politics, he is anti-matter.
Anyone who analyzes Donald Trump's campaign in terms of the historic two-party paradigm is making a mistake. It's not that kind of year.