This week's New Yorker has a long "reporter at large" article titled "In the Heart of Trump Country" by Larissa MacFarquhar. The reporter spent time in Logan County and she tries to answer the question:
West Virginia used to vote solidly Democratic. Now it belongs to Trump. What happened?
The reporter works hard to avoid the West Virginia stereotype:
And yet in other ways he is not the Appalachian Trump voter as many people elsewhere imagine him—ignorant, racist, appalled by the idea of a female President or a black President, suspicious and frightened of immigrants and Muslims, with a threatened job or no job at all, addicted to OxyContin. Those voters exist, but the political thinking of many others in Trump country is more ambivalent and complicated and non-inevitable than is apparent from signs hung on Main Street or carried at rallies. The perception that people in West Virginia are voting for Trump because they are racist or ignorant is significant, though, since it’s one of the reasons they’re voting for Trump in the first place. “When people talk about Trump, they talk about how they don’t like the establishment or the élites,” Charles Keeney, a history professor at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, in Logan County, says. “When they say that, they mean who they see on television—they envision people in New York City making fun of them and calling them stupid. Every time you leave the state, you get it—someone will say, Oh, you’re from West Virginia, do you date your cousin? Wow, you have shoes, wow you have teeth, are you sure you’re from West Virginia? So when they see that the media élite is driven out of their mind at the success of Donald Trump it makes them want to root for him. It’s like giving the middle finger to the rest of the country.”
It's definitely worth a read and I'd highly recommend it for non-Appalachians.
I'll be away for a couple of days - next blog post on Tuesday.