Maybe they didn’t expect it.
It’s a bit remarkable, but if you are getting your news from government releases and their associated commercial broadcast outlets, things can sneak up on you.
Propaganda has become more sophisticated, but it has its limits, and they seem to make for some interesting configurations sometimes. One problem is that the people within the structure, who carry out the propaganda, are pretty thoroughly propagandized themselves. So Rachel Maddow and whoever is at Fox these days probably imagine for one or another reviewed and assembled set of reasons that what they purport publicly is in some way truthy. They must be aware that the company picks and chooses items as important and unimportant and that certain factoids and opinions are rejected. But they imagine that one or another collage is representative or revealing or brings people towards the truth or can be digested and responded to meaningfully by their audience or is promoting the Good or something.
But let’s say you were someone who had voted for Donald Trump because you wanted someone outside-the-beltway and because somebody told you that voting for a third party would mean throwing your vote away and because the other party ran Hillary Clinton–who, after all, did not really need to call you deplorable in so many words to get the idea across.
The idea that most people who fit this picture have is not that they are for the rich and empowered, but that they are for the poor and hardworking and righteous. Some of them think such people are generally White and generally American; others do not.
What has happened is that propaganda outreach has convinced these people that Republicans are both patriots and anti-nationalist small-government types, states-rights and local-group rights, law-and-order and constitutional protection of rights, and so forth.
There is nothing in any of that that means that they should not have medical coverage. There is a lot in most all of it that suggests that they should not have to pay out obscene amounts of money to the East-Coast fancies who run insurance and pharmaceuticals companies. They may have all sorts of weird ideas about minorities and foreigners, but they know pretty clearly that they themselves are Americans who have been set aside.
These people are far more ripe for approach by Bernie Sanders than by Joe Biden for fairly simple reasons, mostly those that persuaded their grandparents and great-great grandparents to vote for FDR. They have not been convinced that they will be mistreated, nor generally that the Republicans are anything like angels. They have only been convinced that the Democrats will mistreat them more badly.
There are some reasons to call them fools for that. But the problem is not particularly that they do not understand the Democratic Party, which has not tried an FDR during most people’s adult memory.