Obviously when there's a colossal failure, there are things to be learned, but any time there's a Democratic loss they're supposed to learn the same lesson they're told to learn, strangely, when they win. Be more conservative! Reach out to white males, just not white males in unions! Don't improve their lot in life, just make it clear you hate the same people they hate and listen to the music they listen to! Don't love gay people so much! Forget women, all those white women didn't vote for you anyway!! The problem is Democrats are out of touch with the culture of Real America!
Obama won twice. It's important to remember that. And whatever his flaws, he didn't do it by pretending to be a cultural conservative. He wasn't always perfect on those issues, but he probably catered to the hate-gay-people-and-women crowd much less than most Democrats. Also, too, he's black.
It's hard threading this needle. I think to support Trump you have to be a racist or not care much about racism. I think the strength of Trump support is due to that racism. But things are fucked up and bullshit, still, in this country. Yes I know the stats show that Trump supporters on average aren't poor. But that doesn't mean they're doing well, either. The story of the past 35+ years is that while the poors have largely stayed poor, the middle class has gotten hammered too. Those household income stats mask declining actual fortunes, fading retirement hopes, and the fact that things are fucked up and bullshit for their kids and their communities.
People do believe there's a secret welfare state for the blahs, the immigrants, the gays, for everybody but them. This is, of course, wrong. There is no secret welfare state. But we all know the government is always handing out cadillacs and obamaphones, but for some reason I never got my free cadillac.
Here at my little blue lemonade stand I can point out that there's no secret welfare state, but no one who needs to hear that is going to hear that from me. And there's no advantage to pointing it out either. Everybody should get access to the secret welfare system! Everybody should have free cadillacs and obamaphones, or at least access to free college and a cable company that isn't always screwing them. Instead, fix the fact that things are fucked up and bullshit, or at least promise to.
Trump voters are rich! They make $70,000 in household income! That's higher than average! Well, sure, they aren't poor. But good luck putting two kids through college on $70,000 per year without loading them with massive debt. This shit is much more expensive than it used to be. Nobody over the age of 50 who isn't currently writing a tuition check seems to be aware of that. Good luck doing that if you've had even one recent negative event in your life (a layoff, a hospital bill). Good luck having any savings when you're 60 and nearing retirement, assuming your knees haven't given out yet. People don't.
It's false that things are more fucked up and bullshit for relatively well off white people than for others, but it's not false that things are more fucked up and bullshit for them than they used to be. It's stupid of them to blame the secret welfare state for taking all of their money, but they do.
As for minority voters, who really are supposed to be a part of the Democratic coalition but who didn't quite manage to vote as much this time, things are obviously still fucked up and bullshit for them. Our immigration system is horrible. This was not fixed. I've read dozens of excuses for why Obama kept deportation levels so high, but, whatever, he did. Cops keep killing unarmed black people and getting away with that. I don't know how much this is new, and how much it's that we hear about it more, but Democrats aren't exactly out in front on this issue. And many of them really are poor, and the poor always get screwed.
All of us savvy people "know" the Dems are better for the notrich than Republicans are, but I can forgive people for not knowing that. And if I can't have mine, why the hell should "they" get theirs?
As for Clinton, I know what her policy proposals were. I'm not sure anybody else did. The media is horrible and don't talk about policy, but we knew that. I also know that improving the EITC in a complicated fashion and promising free college, but not for all people because that's crazy Bernie talk, but for some people and "debt free" college for all and can you fill out this form please to determine your eligibility* and oh by the way none of this shit will get through Congress anyway so why aren't we promising the moon if we can't deliver the half a moon we are promising. All the Dems are now on board with "expanding" Social Security. This is great! What does it mean? Probably giving more to the blahs and the immigrants and the gays.
Sure all of this is "pundit's fallacy" stuff. But I'm not gazillionaire Tom Friedman telling you that what the people really want is to invade more countries and have better cell service in the subway. I don't actually think all the country wants from our politicians the same things I want. I do know that things are fucked up and bullshit for much of the country. President Trump is going to make everything a whole lot worse, of course, but candidate Trump said he'd fix things. We'll keep the immigrants out. We'll bring back coal jobs. Show me a problem, and I'll fix it. Not set up a plan to adjust the framework to tweak the incentives to modestly change the market outcomes. Just fix it.
*I knew kids in high school who couldn't get their parents to fill out college financial aid forms. This type of thing is a problem nobody talks about.
tl;dr Shit is fucked up and bullshit and neither our benevolent nor our malevolent overlords know or care.