The great Midwest populist election that historians have speculated over since after the Civil War finally became a reality when Donald Trump was elected to become the country’s 45th president.

It was a race that stunned pundits, reporters, the stock market and elites as solidly blue-states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — who all went big for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 — fell like dominoes for the Republican nominee.

But it did not surprise the voters who live and work in those states like A.J. Hammons in Van Wert Ohio, a 27 year-old mechanic and his wife Megan, 28, a home healthcare nurse.

Both voted for Obama twice, but voted Trump on Election Day on two issues: the economic impact of Obamacare and change.

“We wanted something concrete, something better,” said Hammond.

Like people located throughout this former Rust Belt region they understood their voice was not being heard and they also understand their friends, family and community were planning on sending Washington a message.

Their repudiation of Washington is rooted in both economics and societal changes said Paul Sracic, political science professor at Youngstown State University, “But it is also rooted in technology,” he said.

First the economics and social aspect; these voters in particular have a generational attachment to their communities; many live where their parents, grand-parents or great-grandparents who immigrated to the U.S. to, more often than not, to escape economic and/ or religious struggles in Europe.

Experts and polling failed because they were not able to collect the data to measure the drive of stability and the desire to remain attached to friends, family and community. So they were unlikely to be able to capture the common sentiment of voters who live in these Rust Belt states.

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In short they could not see what was happening here unless they came here.

“There is a great lesson to be learned about what happened in Pennsylvania and across the country’s mid-section,” said Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat who hails from Scranton, one of the once great coal cities in the country.

Casey was still feeling the sting of Hillary Clinton losing his home state Wednesday afternoon but reflective enough to know that voters were sending a message to him and both political parties, “We’ve both missed our mark here, I think in many ways voters were rejecting all of us.”

Casey says the way technology, and globalization has impacted these voter’s livelihoods or ability to stay living in the communities they are attached to is likely at the heart of their rejection of the status quo.

MIT economist David Autor has concluded that between 1 and 2 million of the 5 million manufacturing jobs manufacturing jobs lost since 2000 in this country can be tied to the law, signed at the end of the Clinton administration, granting permanent normal trade relations with China and thereby lowering tariffs on many Chinese products.

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Which is why if you travel across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin there is plenty of evidence of the U.S. actions with regard to trade that harmed manufacturing employment.

But something else was going on that made the problem even worse said Sracic, “Technological advances mean that you need fewer employees to make the same amount of product,” he said.

In short manufacturing output has really not declined much in the United States over the past 40 years; but manufacturing employment, however, has declined.

Also, the types of skills demanded for these manufacturing jobs has changed said Sracic, “Machines are much better at replacing low-skilled labor than high-skilled labor; so the demand for low-skill labor has declined alongside wages.”

At the same time, technology has made the average worker much more productive. This productivity means more profits, but with too many workers competing for too few jobs, wages are stagnant or in decline.

Voters in these areas have visibly watched their communities and families ripped apart right in front of their eyes as new technologies have replaced their skill sets that used to provide a decent life for them and their families.

Democrats spent an entire generation promising to bring back the jobs, but have only held them hostage with the empty promises. To date Republicans only promised them if they pull themselves up by their bootstraps they’ll achieve anything, and that certainly didn’t win them any votes.

In comes Trump a non-ideological populist with a promise of change, of something different and a little “screw-you” to all of the politicians and their promises and they bought in.

All Clinton promised them was the past, and for many of them that past included a law signed by her husband that lowered tariffs Chinese products and no alternative to better their livelihoods.

The great Midwest populist wave was very visible on the ground in each of these states, so if you took a drive in any of the states before the election and took a moment to discuss it with the natives you would have had an idea something was afoot, but if you were relying on polling data and analysts you would be as surprised as the Detroit Free Press was who called it for Clinton before the numbers were in.

Salena Zito is a columnist for the Washington Examiner.

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