There’s a particularly interesting revelation in Katherine Cramer’s analysis of the politics of rural Wisconsin, which appears today on the Vox website.
Cramer, a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, has been traveling to specific towns in rural Wisconsin for about 10 years and she says the results of last week’s election was about respect — or the lack of it — for rural areas more than anything else.
That wasn’t the revelation; this was: Where did people get their news?
It’s worth noticing that Trump’s appeal to these folks is not about facts or particular policies. It is instead the act of delivering a message that resoundingly resonates with the perspective of someone identifying proudly as a resident of a type of place that the dominant urban society does not care about or respect.
I think it is also important to notice that the willingness to blame minority groups or even the mass media was not obviously the result of drinking up Fox News — or involvement with alt-right groups. When I asked people where they got their news, the most common response was “each other.”
Some people did pay attention to Fox News, but such people were more rare than the prevalent stereotype of rural Republicans suggests. I never heard anyone talk about involvement with the KKK or other hate groups. That is obviously information that people might have chosen to conceal from me, but its complete absence from our conversations also runs against the grain of stereotypes of Trump voters.
This resentful perspective was not something handed to people during this presidential campaign. The people I interviewed have been telling these stories to each other for years, if not decades, and the resentment has been simmering.
Cramer says the last thing many people want to do now is listen to Trump supporters in the rural heartland. That, she notes, would be a mistake.
Related: The Reality of Rural Resentment (City Lab)