Today, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Democratic leadership itself admits that the economy is the issue that sunk Clinton:
Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York was elected by Democrats as minority leader of the Senate on Wednesday ….
Schumer also broadened the Democratic leadership tent with the intent of improving the party's standing with both its progressive wing and its working-class base, two groups whose frustration with the party and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton helped lead to President-elect Donald Trump's victory.
Populist [because she has stood up against the big banks and for the little guy] Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also kept a top spot.
"There's a debate going on about whether we should be the party of the diverse Obama coalition, or the blue-collar American in the heartland," Schumer said, referring to the broad swath of heavily minority voters who helped put President Obama in office.
"We need to be the party that speaks to and works on behalf of all Americans and a bigger, bolder, sharper-edged economic message that talks about people in the middle class," Schumer said. He said Democrats should also confront "the unfairness in the American economic system."
The Democratic leadership is admitting that it has to focus on changing its economic message.
Lambert Strether – who is extremely knowledgeable about political horseraces – adds additional evidence:
First, the swing from Obama to Trump was greater in counties that were economically stressed. FiveThirtyEight:
Instead, to understand what drove Trump's victory, we can look at how Trump's margin against Clinton in 2016 compared with Romney's against President Obama in 2012. Sure enough, the swing toward Trump was much stronger in counties with a higher share of routine jobs; the swing toward Trump was also stronger where unemployment was higher, job growth was slower and earnings were lower. It is clear that the places that voted for Trump are under greater economic stress, and the places that swung most toward Trump are those where jobs are most under threat. Importantly, Trump's appeal was strongest in places where people are most concerned about what the future will mean for their jobs, even if those aren't the places where economic conditions are worst today.
Notice that job crapification ("routine jobs") is part of economic stress.
Second, economic optimism among Black voters was much lower than in 2012. WaPo:
"Pre-election research showed that among African Americans, their feelings of economic optimism were precipitously lower in this election than in 2012," said Geoff Garin, a pollster for Priorities USA who conducted this research independently of the super PAC. "And their feeling that Clinton's economic policies would help people like them were substantially lower. "Those kinds of things affect people's willingness to come out to vote."
Third, primary counties with high Case-Deaton death rates voted for Trump. WaPo:
In every state except Massachusetts, the counties with high rates of white mortality were the same counties that turned out to vote for Trump.
We're focusing on middle-aged whites because the data show that something has gone terribly wrong with their lives. In a study last year, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton pointed out that mortality rates for this group have actually been increasing since the '90s.
Economic struggles have likely contributed as well. Case and Deaton also found that the increase in the death rate has been driven by people with less education. For those without a college degree, the economy in recent decades has been increasingly miserable. This may explain why some have turned to self-destructive behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse.