Back in 2012, Google launched the EMD update, which the company described as a small update, affecting 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. It was designed to demote low quality exact match domain sites.
We don't really hear that much about the update anymore, but there were quite a few complaints from webmasters hit by it when it launched.
There is some new discussion in the webmaster community with people thinking Google has eased up on this repeating update.
Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to some chatter in the Webmaster Word forum, and more people chimed in in the comments of his post saying they've been seeing more EMD sites ranking for various industry-specific searches.
Gareth Miller suggests that they didn't really punish low quality EMD sites, calling it "another case of Google doing something and then exaggerating its impact to discourage spammers from pursuing the tactic"
I don't know. I wouldn't say Google exaggerated it, considering they said it was small to begin with, though I'm sure he has a valid point about Google discouraging spammers.
Apparently, if these sites are appearing as frequently as some say, it didn't discourage them enough.
Of course there are plenty of EMD sites that do offer quality content, and deserve to rank just as much as the next site. We talked about this with Todd Malicoat (aka: Stuntdubl) last year.