Well put, Mike Konczal.
I would add, in terms of material/statistical realities that the Democrats ignored to their peril: there may have been a financial recovery from the worst of the 2008 crisis with housing and auto, the living recovery — home ownership and the manufacturing jobs in sectors related to auto — have not come.
People keep hammering on the problem of white working class voters having defected in states like Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina and treating it as a race problem (e.g., “identity politics.”) But Obama won those states, and he did so on the strength of two very easily forgotten but crucial policies: cash-for-clunkers and mortgage relief.
Clinton did not step forward with an economic plan that continued that work. It seems the assumption of her campaign was, simply, that it was done. But it isn’t! We have emerging problems with how people’s credit scores were damaged by foreclosure and debt. That’s been patched only by piecemeal measures: the conversion of homes to rentals, and the scary growth of subprime lending for auto. Neither of those are a true solution, just a formula for a decade with bad debts and no home equity.
In fact, the only time Clinton seemed to address debt as a problem were in plans around community colleges and student lending. In either of those cases, blue collar workers don’t see anything to gain (perhaps wrongfully, since retraining and career movement will be a key). And it created a big opportunity for Trump to hype the revival of manufacturing, which will most certainly not help advance anyone — at best, it will maintain old industries that are in fact more in need of restructuring than the auto industry was.