In comments leaked to the press, President Trump said, "I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den."

These comments shocked many commentators and offended New Hampshire politicos, who lined up to call his comments "disgusting" and "offensive."

All these negative reactions seem to miss some very important points.

1) Some critics point out Trump didn't, in fact, win New Hampshire. That is, he lost to Hillary Clinton in the general election. Trump was probably talking about the primary, where his massive victory shot him into orbit and on the path to the Republican nomination. (Also, Clinton beat Trump by about 2,800 votes in November.) In the primary, Trump hammered away at New Hampshire's drug problem and promised (somewhat absurdly) to fix it.

2) New Hampshire does have a very serious drug problem. Only West Virginia has a higher rate of drug overdose deaths (when you control for age) according to the Centers for Disease Control. In a 2015 poll, a plurality of Granite Staters named drugs as the biggest problem facing the state.

3) This sort of talk is, in my opinion, largely how Trump won the primary and came closer in the general election than any Republican in 16 years.

When people talk about Trump voters as being downscale, there's often an imprecision. The people doing worst in America are the drug-addicted, the in-and-out of jail, the men who have dropped out of the workforce, the women reduced to prostitution, and the children of all of the above.

The Trump voters are their neighbors.

They are the people who look out their front window and think "the American Dream really is dead." They are the ones who daily see conditions they would call "carnage." (Well, that is, if we take as a given that black voters, who see plenty of this deprivation up close, aren't going to be Republicans.)

In New Hampshire, the wealthier and the more educated you were, the less likely you were to vote Trump. These people are also less likely to live across the street from an addict.

Trump's carnage talk offends the political class. That action and reaction simply strengthens the emotions that drive Trump's base to Trump.

Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner's commentary editor, can be contacted at His column appears Tuesday nights on