Nice job, Colin Woodard.
Of course, not everything is reducible to his article. I'm not suggesting Colin thinks otherwise. I'm simply saying that his is a good overlay.
The regional cultures we think of as “blue” today have traditions championing the building and maintenance of free communities, today’s “red” ones on maximizing individual freedom of action. Our presidential contests almost always present a clear choice between the two, and the regions act accordingly.
The 2016 election was an exception, largely because Mr. Trump did not campaign as a traditional laissez faire Republican. Rather, he promised government would rebuild infrastructure and the manufacturing sector, shield workers from imports and migrant workers, replace the Affordable Care Act with “something terrific” and protect Social Security and Medicare. This delivered critical dividends in rural parts of the communitarian-minded Midlands and Yankeedom, flipping scores of counties that had voted for Mr. Obama twice, most of them in the Upper Mississippi Valley, northern New England and upstate New York.
In the midterms, this presents a challenge for Mr. Trump and his Republican allies because the president has failed to deliver on most of those communitarian promises.