Analysis of Latinx, Asian American, and African American voting

There has been some mixed reporting about how the Hispanic (or Latinx) vote went. Of course, one thing to bear in mind is that this community is highly diverse and does not vote monolithically. Their roots lie in many different countries that have very varied histories and hence their life experiences also vary accordingly. Those of Cuban and Venezuelan origin tend to be right wing and vote Republican more than other groups. Catholicism, particularly opposition to abortion, also plays a major role for those who are older and particularly religious. And of course, there are also major generational splits with younger people across the board tending more towards Democrats.

In an election of many firsts, it appears that surging youth turnout in a number of key states may have helped propel Joe Biden to victory.

Analysis suggests an increase of as much as 10% in youth voter turnout – with particularly high engagement in 11 key battleground states. That may have been game-changing for Joe Biden, who had the support of 61% of people aged 18-29.

Now, young people have had their say. Projections suggest young people made up 17% of the vote share this time around, with young people also having the potential to make a decisive difference in key Senate races in states such as Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina.

Some have argued that the Biden campaign did not make enough of an outreach to the Latinx community in general and that as a result, the vote share for Democrats may have actually declined compared to previous elections, despite Trump’s harsh immigration polices and racist rhetoric. There has also been some speculation that some Hispanic men may have been attracted to him by his tough talk and bravado generally. Nate Cohn of the New York Times lays the blame for the below expectations performance of the Democrats to their reduced share of the Hispanic vote.

The swing towards Trump in Hispanic areas across the country is extraordinary. It was hinted at in the preëlection polls. The polls always showed the President faring better among nonwhite, and particularly Hispanic, voters than he did four years ago, but the magnitude of the shift was way beyond expectations. We learned that early in the night in Miami-Dade County, where no one had the President doing as well as he did. And it has proven true, as far as I can tell, basically everywhere in the country among Latino voters, to varying degrees. It’s true down-ballot. It’s not like this was just about the President. And I think it’s a huge and important political story.

It is important that later Cohn says that he has not actually crunched the numbers yet but is going by his ‘gut feeling’.

We will have to wait for a detailed analysis once all the data are in but Juan González, a professor at Rutgers University and co-host with Amy Goodman of the radio program Democracy Now!, has taken a deep dive into the voting patterns using the data we have so far and he says that the idea that the Hispanic community somehow lagged behind others in supporting the Democratic ticket is not true. They actually supported it in larger numbers than before, as did the Asian American community and, to a lesser extent, the African American community.

He makes the very important point that looking at just the percentage of Latinx voters who voted for the Democrats in 2020 and comparing it with the 2016 number is misleading. Even if that percentage decreased slightly this time, as it did, the total number who voted this election was much greater than in 2016 and this resulted in a huge increase in Latinx votes for the Democrats over the Republicans. The numbers of Asian Americans and, to a lesser extent, African Americans voting also markedly increased while the number of white voters increased very slightly. Once again, it shows the importance of making voting worthwhile for those who have been marginalized and did not vote before.

He says that the real puzzle that commentators should focus on is why, despite Trump’s horrible behavior towards women, and his particularly nasty attitude towards successful and confident women, white women supported him more this time than in 2016.

Here is a transcript of González’s remarks that I think it makes for very interesting reading..

I’ve been poring over the numbers and trying to make sense of what happened in this election. And this developing narrative that Latinos and, to some extent, African Americans shifted more toward Donald Trump in this election, that they underperformed for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, I believe, is a largely false narrative. I think the main story of this election, as you mentioned that saw record turnout — we won’t have the exact numbers, but it looks like about 158, 59, 160 million people — close to 160 million people voted. The main story is that people of color, especially Latinos, flocked to the polls in numbers that far exceeded what the experts had expected, while the total number of votes cast by white Americans barely increased from the last presidential election, and, most importantly, that white voters, including white women, voted at higher percentages for Trump this year than they did in 2016. So, how come none of the experts are asking why white voters underperformed the Democratic Party?

And let me be a little bit more specific. There does appear to have been some areas of the country where there was an increase in the percentage of the Latino vote for Donald Trump, specifically in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and in the Miami-Dade County, both of which, I should note, for those people who know the voting patterns of the Latino community, have always been relatively conservative areas of the Latino community in terms of voting. Even though South Texas is largely Democratic, it’s always been a moderate to centrist or conservative Democratic voting bastion. But my analysis of the numbers shows a completely different story when you look at the country as a whole.

And I’m doing this based on the exit polls that most of the networks use, which is the Edison national election poll, which has always been — it’s been criticized in the past precisely because it doesn’t give correct numbers or doesn’t give valid numbers on the Latino community, but it’s still the only massive exit poll that we have, until we get more scientific studies that come maybe months later or a year later.

So, first of all, the historic turnout, right? If we take the number of 159 million, last election was 136 million people voted, so we’re talking about an increase of 23 million voters compared to the last election — phenomenal increase. Who were those 23 million people, and where did they come from? So, I think — I have a chart here. I hope the producers are able to put it up here. But you’ll see that, according to the exit polls, 13% of the vote came from Latino voters, Latino Americans. That represents 20.6 million Latinos voted in this election. That is an incredible increase, 65% over the last election, which was already a record for Latinos when it was only 12.6%. For the first time in U.S. history, because Latinos have never voted at more than 50% of the eligible population — they’ve always been 45, 46 or even less — for the first time, about two-thirds of the eligible Latinos came to the polls. Eight million more Latinos voted in this election than voted in the last election.

Then come the Asian Americans, a phenomenal turnout in the Asian American community, 3.6 million more votes than voted in 2016. And then African Americans also had an increase. They went from 17.1 million who voted in 2016 to 19 million, about 1.9 million. So that’s an increase, but it’s not as increased as you might have expect after a year or two years now of massive racial justice protests and the pioneering candidacy of Kamala Harris, but it’s still an increase.

So, what about white voters, the largest sector of the electorate, but a diminishing portion? In 2016, 100 million whites voted in the election. In this election, 103 million voted — just 2.7 million increase in the total white vote in the country.

So, the bulk of the increase of the vote in this election came from people of color, largely Latinos. So, now people say, “Well, but there was a slight percentage increase among African Americans and Latinos for Trump.” Well, percentages don’t win elections. Votes win elections. Right? And that’s what you’ve got to understand. Would you rather have 70% of 12 million votes, or would you rather have 68% of 20 million votes? The increase has been so large, whereas the percentages have stayed roughly the same, that there has been — there was enormous increase in the vote by Asian Americans, Latino Americans and African Americans for Biden and the Democratic Party.

Why was this? And I think the enthusiasm and the turnout of the Latinx community was fueled by four years of constant Republican scapegoating and attacks on Latinos, from the disastrous response to Hurricane Maria for the Puerto Rican community, to family separations, and also to the terrible response of the Trump administration to the coronavirus. And it is why Arizona and Nevada and Colorado are likely, it seems, to go for Joe Biden. And what has happened now is that there is a new Brown Belt voting bloc that is developing in the Southwest, that includes Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and very soon Texas, as well.

So, the real underperformers in this election were white voters, who not only did not have a qualitative increase in their vote totals — they dropped from 71% of the electorate to 65% of the electorate — but they voted in an even higher percentage for Trump this time than last time or than they did for John McCain in 2008. And this is especially true among white women. So, now, how is this possible, given the years now of sexual — of allegations of sexual assault against Trump, his denigrating of women, his family separation policies, that white women increased the percentage of the vote that they gave to Donald Trump? What’s up with that? Why are all the commentators not dissecting what the heck is going on in white America and with white women in America? Unfortunately, it seems to me, looking at the numbers, there is no gender gap. There’s a racial gender gap, in that African American and Latino women are voting so overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party, but not white women. And I think that needs to be analyzed more.

And finally, I think the key issue here is that the United States, being the world’s prime imperialist power, with no real competition, no real adversaries who threaten it, and only China who can compete economically with the United States, that we are a country that is increasingly moving to a situation where the Republican Party is moving more and more to be the party of white people in America, and the Democratic Party is increasingly becoming the party of the new multiracial majority of the American people. That’s what I take from the results of this election, no matter who ends up actually winning the election or what happens with the Senate or what happens with the Congress. It’s the developing trends in the electorate of America that are showing enormous racial division between the two parties and who they represent.

Good stuff.


  1. raven says

    Their roots lie in many different countries that have very varied histories and hence their life experiences also vary accordingly.

    A huge number of Hispanics from Texas to California have their roots in the USA. Some of them come from ancestors who were here when the borders shifted from Mexico to the USA.

    On the west coast, I’m seeing more and more younger Hispanics who seem to be highly Americanized. They speak neutral TV English, have good educations, and hold down skilled jobs.

  2. anat says

    I don’t see how the numbers add up. 3.5 million added Latine votes, 3.6 million added Asian votes, 1.9 million added African-American votes and 2.7 million added white votes add up to 11.7 million. Very far from 23 million. If the missing new voters all refused to provide race/ethnicity info then we simply don’t know the racial make-up of the new voters.

    My initial impression from this and similar analyses (eg ) is that shifts towards Trump among voters of color came mostly from people who did not vote in 2016 whereas shifts towards Trump among white voters came mostly from people who voted for a minor candidate in 2016. And shifts towards Biden over Clinton also mostly came from people who voted for minor parties in 2016. But this impression is probably biased by the kind of information I have easily available to me.

    As for gender gaps -- we already had that trend prior to the election -- the gender gap was strong among Latine and Black voters, and among white voters without college degrees. It is not an overboard gender gap, it is specific to certain demographics.

  3. Steve Cameron says

    González is also off by at least 7 million in the total number of votes cast. Maybe he’s not the numbers guy we should be paying attention to.

  4. Who Cares says

    I have a bit of a different question.
    There is the GSA from what I learned in the past week, this agency is in charge of presidential transitions if there is one. It normally starts up around election day, making lists, looking for rooms, etc.., it hasn’t started working yet. One of Trumps’ (or his lackeys) petty acts at sabotage.
    Had a talk about the firing of Esper, which on its own is petty revenge on Esper for not being a total yesman (the guy had a resignation letter ready for after the elections anyhow). And we both were wondering if this would have any impact on the transition, especially since the only person apparently loyal enough was found several layers of management down and it would probably take weeks if not a month or more to get the guy up to speed.

  5. says

    Family came from Mexico around 1910. We are pretty well assimilated in many ways, but still heard about the Matanza growing up. Cuban Americans who came much later won’t have the same stories.

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