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I've seen pictures of the 2016 presidential election. They seem to show this line that goes across basically the entire US Canada border, but is more pronounced starting in North Dakota. It makes a curve south down into Tennessee and a little bit into northern Alabama. Then it curves up into Pennsylvania Upstate New York and the parts of New England near Canada. Example:

enter image description here

Trump won the Electoral College largely because of the fact that this swing went through states such as Michigan Wisconsin Pennsylvania Iowa and Ohio as well as a few states that were not competitive at the time. However Clinton won the popular vote partly through swings in urban areas. We saw similar images of this in the 2008-2012 shift to a lesser degree.

What explains this belt of counties shifting towards the Republicans?

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    Nearly every question about elections (2016 or 2020) cause some people gone berserk and downvote before read. +1, I don't think that question is bad Jul 13 at 12:09
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    Does this answer your question? Which party actually caused the 2016 presidential election swing? Jul 13 at 13:39
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    The deepest red areas are lightly populated areas in the north and midwest. I've lived in the Houston area for 35 years, but those deep red areas are where my roots lie. I have relatives in North Dakota, northern Minnesota, northern Michigan, and northern Maine. They feel ignored, left behind, and alienated. Politics dominated by large cities bothers them, a lot. They uniformly did not want Hillary Clinton as President in 2016. They weren't so uniformly against Joe Biden in 2020. That's limited personal experience and also apocryphal, so it's not an answer. Jul 13 at 13:52
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    I'm voting to leave open. While the link provided by @DavidHammen answers a related question, this question is about a specific region and it's reasons don't necessarily match with the whole country, as evidenced by David's third comment which I think is a much better and more likely accurate answer.
    – RWW
    Jul 13 at 16:55
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    @David Hammen: In 2020, it was a combination of people not being much against Biden, and being very much against Trump, who had (among other things) shown himself to be just another clueless urbanite. See for instance his suggestions of raking forests in order to prevent forest fires.
    – jamesqf
    Jul 13 at 16:58
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There is no one magic thing that caused 2016 to swing the way it did. There are a lot of smaller effects that added up to a Trump win.

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    Tired of non-sourced opinions, so added some links. Roll back if you disagree.
    – CGCampbell
    Jul 13 at 15:24
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    This is an answer to the linked duplicate question, but this question is asking about this one region specifically. Nothing in your answer addresses the region in the question. If you think that a general answer like this is appropriate to the question, then this question should be closed as a duplicate of that other question.
    – divibisan
    Jul 13 at 21:14

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