The presidential race lasted for two years and somehow ended in a surprise. These are the stories from our band of political reporters that stand out now. They offer in-the-moment snapshots of the factors that enabled Donald Trump’s ascendance, from his opponents’ strategic failures to his appeal to the disaffected. — Carolyn Ryan
A significant subset of voters who re-elected Barack Obama in 2012 found themselves more attuned to Mr. Trump than Mrs. Clinton. “He’s not going to promise me change, and then not do that,” a supporter in Cleveland said.
In June of last year, our reporters delivered this story, which provoked strong reaction in the political world. It detailed how Mrs. Clinton planned to mobilize the Democratic base that had elected President Obama rather than appeal more broadly to the voters that had elected her husband. That strategy skipped over undecided voters who may have drifted over to Mr. Trump.
This story reveals how the Republican elite stopped paying attention to their party’s blue-collar, less affluent base, paving the way for the rise of Mr. Trump.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has been at war. This piece captured the resonance Mr. Trump’s campaign found among so many veterans, distrustful of the political class that sent them to fight and ignored or misunderstood back home.
This piece, way back in March of last year, diagnosed the Democrats’ most serious vulnerability. When the party stood by Mrs. Clinton as her email troubles built, it wasn’t just loyalty. It was inertia — a sign that, no matter how troubling the revelations might prove, there was no easy way to replace her.
By last fall, a Democratic shift was evident in the renaming of “Jefferson-Jackson” events. The reference to visionary elevations of the common man was lost as the party of organized labor reframed its priorities to lead with racial and sexual identity — a frustration for the white working class.