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The thing I don’t get is why many rural areas still seem to be so red.

That one is easy. Immigration.

A Dem has to find a way to talk about this again or Trump stands a realistic chance of winning again.

I don't profess to know the solution but by all appearances, "red" voters cared more about immigration than healthcare, the economy, or terrorism. I don't know the rarity of that but it seems quite significant to me.

Additionally, I would wager that the level of importance (i.e. how likely that issue is to cause you to change your vote) is even higher than the level of importance that healthcare was to the dems. Such is the same reason why we can have 60% wanting increased gun control but not enough of that 60% don't care enough about it to vote for a different person come election time.
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