T2B5: I've got your back

The color of the vote

I want to emphasize throughout these updates - voting in the US is heavily skewed by race and less so by gender.

This being a strange year, Trump gained votes in every POC group and lost share among white voters, even if his advantage remains solid. Where did he lose white votes? White college educated men made the biggest shift.

White people without college degrees are Trump’s base. White people - especially men - without a college degree are living shorter, poorer lives for the first time in living memory. Such a big shift in life outcomes will impact everything, politics included. It would be mind-boggling but not unimaginable if the Republicans become the party of the working class (white for now, perhaps more diverse in the future). Marco Rubio is making those noises already - not surprising since Cuban-Americans shifted Republican in a big way in this election and we are seeing the same shift in border areas in Texas that you might expect to be deeply anti-Trump given his messaging around immigration and wall building. Perhaps the right is getting good enough with its propaganda tactics - this election saw a huge increase in Spanish language misinformation - that it might be able to expand its core to include people, mostly men, of other races. Will Facebook catalyze an amalgam of race and class?

Rubio: GOP must rebrand as party of 'multiethnic, multiracial, working-class' voters

Such shifts have happened in the past. Do remember that it’s the Republicans who ended slavery and the south was solidly Democratic until the 60s. Republican == White is a relatively new phenomenon. Having said that, party correlation with race is overwhelming. Mapping votes by geography makes it stark

And the contrast with ‘only nonwhite people voting’:

In his victory speech, Biden acknowledged the importance of African Americans in his successful run for president:

And especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest — the African-American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.

It started with the primaries. If you recall, Biden lost Iowa and New Hampshire with Bernie and Buttigieg ahead of him in both. It was Jim Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden in the South Carolina primary that gave Biden his first victory, after which he was unstoppable.

As for the Nov 3rd election, I will leave you with a single statistic. Hillary Clinton lost Michigan to Trump in 2016 by 11,000 votes. Biden won Michigan this year by about 145,000 votes. If you zoom into Wayne County, which contains Detroit:

  • 2016: Hilary beat Trump by ~ 290,000 votes with a turnout of ~ 520,000 for the Democrats. Total voter turnout, i.e., Democrats + Republicans + Third Parties, in 2016: 8,02,195 == 59.17 % of the total population,

  • 2020: Biden beat Trump by ~ 323,000 votes with a turnout of ~ 587,000 for the Democrats. Total voter turnout in 2020: 61.68 %

Increasing the turnout by 2.5% is amazing, especially in sharply contested races in which the margin of victory is < 2%. While much media attention is being paid to Biden gaining new voters in the suburbs, the campaign itself must be acutely aware of the additional turnout in Wayne county - about 67,000 people- who voted Democrat this year. Since he got about 2/3rd of the vote in Wayne (the Republicans had higher turnout too), that extra turnout gave Biden a 33,000 vote cushion - three times the winning margin in 2016.

The political logic is straightforward: every pre-election poll suggested most voters had made up their minds. There were few ‘undecideds’ left on Nov 3rd. If you can’t increase mindshare, the only way to better your chances is to bring your people to the booth. As a result turnout had an outsize effect on the final outcome, or conversely, voter suppression can swing the election. Guess who gets suppressed?

Wayne county is ~ 40 % African American as opposed to ~ 13.4% nationwide and ~ 25% in Michigan as a whole. Wayne County has been losing people continuously since 1970, so more people voted in 2020 despite fewer people living there than in 2016.

In short, African-Americans turned out in large numbers to vote Biden into office. He said he’s got their back - now he has to make good on that promise.