So, if Joe Biden pulls this out, and it looks like he’s on the cusp of doing so—then what shifts occurred this election season? We’re still counting ballots. We’re still going through legal challenges. Granted, Team Trump is still in Hail Mary territory, but how did we get here? What shifted? It’s not like President Trump did worse regarding getting votes. Ten million more people voted for him whereas Obama lost four million when he was re-elected in 2012.
Comparing the 2016 and 2020 exit polls, Trump doubled his support among LGBT voters, did three percent better among Hispanics, did five percent better with Asian voters, and did four percent better with Black Americans than he did four years ago. Trump broke into double-digit territory with Black Americans. In fact, Black and Latino voters breaking away from Democrats is why Trump won Florida. Along with the border counties of Texas, majority-Hispanic counties saw mass defections from Democrats. The Trump coalition is diverse. It was always diverse. You’d be shocked if you knew how many are economically progressive. Yes, even open to Medicare for All, though Trump’s tough stance on immigration brings them into the Trump fold rather than Bernie Sanders’ orbit.
So, what happened? This is subject to change, but it appears that the gains Trump made with non-white voters were offset by his decrease in support with old white dudes. This country still has an electorate that is roughly 2/3 majority white. At first glance, it appears that Trump hit all the markers with this demographic. So, what gives? Well, just look at Biden. He did better with white voters than Hillary Clinton. Also, the 65 and older share was bigger this year than in 2016, 27 percent to 16 percent of voters respectively. Trump won this group by seven in 2016, but only five percent this year. Look, CNN is biased as hell. You all know this, but everyone gets the same exit poll data. And on this front, CNN did a decent job crunching the loss of support Trump had among white voters (via CNN):
Trump lost the support of many White men, a group he won decisively in 2016 and by less so in 2020. But the bigger story for Democrats — and the reason they were unable to perform better against the President — is that Biden narrowly underperformed Clinton’s margin of victory among voters of color, who all broke decisively for Biden, but by smaller margins than Clinton won them. Most alarming for Democrats is Trump’s performance among Latinos. It helped him keep Florida, which has many Cuban-Americans and Puerto Ricans. But he trailed in Arizona, which has more Mexican-Americans.
Trump’s most fervent base of support is among White men without college degrees. He won them again, but by a smaller margin.
Biden’s most convincing electoral argument was that he could recapture some of the White, working class voters who went to Trump in Rust Belt states in 2016. He certainly over-performed Clinton among White men without college degrees. He made inroads with White college educated men and slightly improved over Clinton, who was trying to become the first woman president, among White college educated women.
Now, these aren’t catastrophic dips, however, but a small change in this voter bloc can sink you. There are many ways to skin the electoral cat, as Sean Trende once said about the future of electoral politics. And even in that discussion, he noted the white voter demographic and how a mere three percent more in this category could have ushered in a Mitt Romney presidency. And yes, rural white working-class voters still matter, which is something that is likely to get lost as liberals dance in the street. If Hillary Clinton had only lost to this group by a two-to-one margin, which is still getting killed by the way, instead of a three-to-one margin, she might have been elected president. The many slight changes with white voters seemed to have added up. And there were shifts with the Catholic vote and independents. No doubt that added up as well, but the big enchilada here was white voters breaking away from the president. Again, even slight changes can have a ripple effect that can cost you an election.
It ain’t over until the fat lady sings—I get it. We still have to make sure all the legal votes are counted, and Trump certainly has grounds to file these legal challenges. Scores of allegations of voter fraud have been lobbed. We have allegations of ballots being illegally backdated. It’s a mess. But if all else fails, and Biden is still on top, this will be why.
There is something ironic about all of this, which is that for all of the Democrats and liberal America’s hatred of white folks, specifically white men, Biden appears to have won…because of white dudes. It wasn’t the legions of the "woke" who got Biden over the top, it was white men. Maybe there can be a truce among the most vicious progressive slices of the Democratic base who view white men as anathema, but I doubt it. And with Trump’s gains with non-white voters, which certainly caused some issues in down-ticket House races, especially in Florida, this was no blue wave year.
According to the exit poll, Trump did better in 2020 with every race and gender except white men.— Matt Bruenig (@MattBruenig) November 4, 2020
Change from 2016:
White Men -5
White Women +2
Black Men +4
Black Women +4
Latino Men +3
Latino Women +3
Other +5 pic.twitter.com/hUc17Iy1ip