An analysis of the Edison Research and National Election Pool by broadcast journalist and investigative reporter, Juan Gonzales, shows roughly 159M voters, or nearly 50% of the entire US population, participated in the 2020 elections (record high turnout) compared with 136M votes cast in the 2016 election (record low turnout).
So, who are these 23M voters? And how did they vote? As the results of casted ballots were rolling in on election day, Nov 3, immediate assumptions and questionable narratives were also cast about how people of color, women and young voters acted in this Trump v. Biden presidential race.
Although exit polls are not a definitive marker of voter turnout (fully informed voter analysis comes out months or even years later, by the Pew Research Center and others), preliminary analysis of data-backed exit polls can give us some indication of actual voter turnout and candidate choice. Let’s take a look.
Given the vote counts tallied on election night in regions like South Florida and Texas boarder communities, one narrative surmised Latinx and Black voters did not vote for Democrats as much as the Party would have hoped. Gonzales equated these as nothing new; the Miami-Dade County of today has changed drastically from the County’s stunning controversy during the 2000 elections. Conservative Latinos – no matter which country of origin – have looked to Miami-Dade as their home and refuge over the last decade. Gonzales says, anyone who is surprised by these results are not paying attention to population dynamic changes that have occurred in South Florida. Furthermore, the Trump campaign went big in South Florida, out spending the Biden campaign 10:1 in Spanish advertising, along with Pence making more frequent visits to the area. (The Biden campaign on the other hand, placed its focus on Arizona and, as we are seeing, this has been the right bet for the Party’s success.) Communities in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, while growing in moderate Democrats, historically have voted Conservative.
Other narratives around the Democratic party spoke to “a party of elitists” and “vote stealers”; that Dems messaging to Latinx voters as a monolith fell short, ignoring the diverse spectrum of this population.
Overall however, Gonzales refutes these narratives through Edison Research exit poll data, showing votes cast by people of color grew sharply in this election while votes cast by their white counterparts grew by a small fraction. Here are the numbers:
|Demographic||2020 Voter Increase compared to 2016|
|Total Vote Increase since 2016||23 M|
While traditionally the Latinx voter turnout make up 40-45% of all eligible Latinx voters, the 2020 election analysis shows that roughly 66% of all eligible Latinx voters cast a ballot. From racist name-calling by Trump, to the Administration’s handling of post hurricane devastated Puerto Rico to family separation, Latinx voters across the Midwest and Western states contributed to tipping the balance in close call states and are turning Latinx populated counties blue.
This morning, the NYT reminded us how California turned decidedly blue only since the mid-90s:
|“This all changed in 1994, when the backlash against the passing of Proposition 187, which prohibited undocumented immigrants from accessing public services, activated a generation of Latino voters. After the proposition passed, thousands of people marched through downtown Los Angeles protesting the measure. All over the state, students organized grass-roots movements and walked out of classrooms. In 1997, Proposition 187 was ruled unconstitutional and never adopted into law.”|
There are whispers of a Brown Voting Block forming in AZ, NV, NM, CO and soon TX.
Although Black voter turnout was not as high of an increase since 2016, be assured we can thank heavily Black populated cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta in key battleground states for winning this election due to the current apex of social injustice and Kamala Harris on the Democratic ticket. Historically, the Black vote is high and this year saw an increase in turnout.
Native American Voters
The deeply disenfranchised First Nations are the hardest numbers to come by when it comes to voter turnout, but if you look at counties across the US that are heavily populated by Native Americans, blue is their color of choice.
Asian American Voters
With Kamala Harris on the ticket, Democratic outreach in API languages, growing anti-Chinese sentiment and continual confrontation of active white supremacists, this voting block increase is simply phenomenal. “Our community has been overlooked and under resourced for way too long,” Carrie Pugh, the national political director at the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, told NBC Asian America said to NBC News. “Having the data element is an important part in running more sophisticated programs and highlighting us in a way that should be more commensurate with our population growth.”
Gonzales notes what is striking from the Edison Research National Election Pool data, is white voter turnout numbers. In 2016, 100M white voters cast ballots and in 2020, 103M voted. White voters dramatically dropped from being 75% of the electorate in 2016 to 65% in 2020. With an increase of 4M votes cast for Trump in the 2020 election over 2016, data reveals that white women voted for Trump at a much greater margin estimated at 43% than the 46-48% vote cast for Trump in the 2016 election by this demographic, despite Trump’s brazen disrespect for women, the planet and for our future generations and the seismic reverberations of the Me Too Movement. An October 2020 article in The Atlantic directly links QAnon’s “save the children” conspiracy theories as being spread by multilevel marketing companies such as Arbonne and Young Living that are overwhelmingly supported by women-based networks. The article cites feelings of insecurity and loss of purpose that lead well-meaning women to believe in such grossly misinformed theories.
What’s at Stake
Overall, the 4M vote increase comes from voters – no matter what race – who welcome nativist authoritarian rule in their growing uncertainties of globalization’s impact on jobs. They are science-backed climate change deniers who are comfortable with toxic masculinity.
Gonzales adds that throughout his term, Trump’s policies never strayed from traditional Republican policies and accordingly, Republicans voted for Trump despite their dislike for Trump’s lack of common emotional intelligence.
What is next to continue to ensure a safe existence for humanity on this planet is 1) asking the white demographic to reach out to their own to come to terms with white supremacist, chauvinistic and aggressive attitudes that divide the nation and globe, 2) revise the electoral college system to meet the solidly diverse demographic makeup of the US and 3) while communities of color have seen the alarming impacts of climate change in their neighborhoods and countries of origin, increasing voter turnout will continue to tip the scales towards actively working to deal with the human-made warming climate. The only way to make a real dent toward environmental and social justice is to come together as humanity.