My second take on Trump, which I never got around to writing, boils down to the observation that Trump offered rural whites an explanation as to what has caused them to fall so far behind and a way to reassert control over their own lives. While his explanation is bullshit, it's at least an explanation. Democrats offered concrete policy improvements but they didn't offer what mattered to voters, an explanation, a solution, and most critically a way to have some control over their lives, such as whether or not their local plant closed. My impression is that rural voters are a lot less worried about wages than they are about the mere continued existence of their jobs; in low wage, less urbanized areas a higher wage through policies such as a minimum wage hike could often be seen as a threat to the continued existence of the crap job that's at least a job.
But what if Democrats had offered something more concrete then the 30 second hate offered by Trump about devious, cheating foreigners stealing our jobs through some magical, unspecified mechanism? The following is a brief outline of the dream speech of my idealized next populist candidate. Warning, it's NSFW, I believe that a key way to connect with low information voters is to violate elite norms, swearing like a sailor is a norm violation that doesn't involve racism and misogyny.