Trump is the only president in decades who has appealed to a particular segment of the American electorate. …
There is a large segment of American society, maybe 15-20% [more!], that has not had a president who represents their basic worldview for decades. These folks tend to be white, exurban or rural, believe in religious tradition and cultural conservatism without being regular church-goers, very patriotic, very pro-military, hostile to immigration and free trade, skeptical of big business, big government, and establishment experts, and in favor of entitlement programs and the safety net. …
So along comes Trump who appeals to this constituency almost perfectly. Sure, he’s a rich New Yorker, but his outer-borough accent and mentality, scorned by the elite, reminds people that their own regional accents are also scorned by the elite.
This constituency used to be divided between Republicans and Democrats, which is one reason they lacked influence on presidential nominees, but they have shifted to be heavily Republican, which gave them a lot of influence on the nominating process in 2016, and they chose Trump.
Trump, to almost everyone’s surprise, wins. So how do big government, big business, elite experts and so on, i.e., the establishment, react, from his fans’ perspective? Without even giving Trump a chance, they decree that he is illegitimate, that he needs to be resisted, and that his voters are beyond redemption; “this is 1932 in Germany” was not a rare reaction.
So, from these voters’ perspective, the one time in their lifetimes and much longer a president comes around who really speaks to their worldview, the establishment tries to destroy him.
Rather than the anti-Trump sentiment persuading them, it makes them stronger supporters, people who see Trump as their weapon against an establishment that disparages them.