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Economy

Trump's Rust Belt Bet

Smaller and mid-sized cities in the region played an outsize role in the Republican’s victory.
People wave hats and hold phones as Trump holds a rally with supporters in Aston, Pennsylvania, in September.
People wave hats and hold phones as Trump holds a rally with supporters in Aston, Pennsylvania, in September. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Yet another piece of conventional wisdom undone by Donald Trump’s electoral upset has been the Democratic advantage in the political ground game, particularly in cities.

The advantages of population density combined with urban demographics had long made Rust Belt cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Madison strongholds for Democrats. And for decades, Democratic voters in those cities were enough of a counterweight to offset Republican rural voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.