2020 Exit Polling: Dems Are Young, Educated, Working Class, and Diverse
It’s been one week since Election Day, and while votes are still being counted, we can evaluate what happened using 2020 exit polling. With the help of, Reuters here are 9 numbers that help explain an historic U.S. election that was conducted in the middle of both a worldwide pandemic and global economic recession. The data is derived from voting figures available through Saturday afternoon November 7th 2020:
2020 Exit Polling: Overall
- 65 million Americans (close to half) voted by mail. The mail-in ballot surge, tracked by the U.S. Elections Project, also overwhelmed election workers in many states, with the slow pace of counting keeping the world on edge for days.
- From the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt, Biden won more votes than Trump in suburbs and other areas that skew towards affluence. Turnout in suburban counties was on track to rise about 18% as college-educated voters repudiated Trump. Turnout rose less in largely rural counties, where the Republican incumbent had broad support.
- 4 million popular vote advantage for Biden
- That’s the percentage of white male voters who supported Trump this year, but the president had less pull with this key slice of his political base than in 2016, according to an Edison Research exit poll that showed his support was 4 percentage points lower this year.
- Trump gained more than 2 million votes in the counties most ravaged by the coronavirus. That was fewer than Biden picked up relative to his party’s take in 2016, but still an increase. While the epidemic was a top concern among voters, Trump’s share of the vote was about steady in the counties with more than 70 deaths per 100,000 residents.
- Biden is on track to win 42 counties that were won by Trump four years ago. In the battleground state of Michigan, Biden won Kent County, an affluent, long-time Republican stronghold where Trump held his final 2016 and 2020 campaign rallies. Trump, meanwhile, was on track to flip just seven counties that voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
- Trump lost Florida’s Miami-Dade County, a Democratic stronghold, by a mere 7 percentage points, compared to the 29-point loss he suffered there in 2016.
- Biden won the District of Columbia by 92 points. Trump won Wyoming, which has not sided with a Democratic presidential nominee since 1964, by 70 points. The blowout wins, while impressive, netted just three electoral votes for each.
- Trump received the second most votes of all time in 2020, yet lost the popular vote as he did in 2016.
Gender Race and Ethnicity
The Working Class
Democrats dominated with virtually every demographic while increasing their share of the white vote. The demise of the party is only viewed through the lens of a massive landslide. What exactly do we call a 306 electoral vote victory along with a 6 million popular vote advantage?
Presidential elections are not won nationally, but in individual states. Trump won the three key Midwestern states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan in 2016; Biden flipped all of them in 2020.
In all of those states, the third party vote in 2016 was greater than the margin of Trump’s victory. Four years later, support for third party candidates dropped from 6.4% to around 1.5 in Wisconsin, from 5.7 to 1.5 in Michigan and from 4.3 to 1.2 in Pennsylvania. There is no proof that all of those third party voters from 2016 moved to Biden in 2020, but a far left candidate like Jill Stein (Green Party) likely drew more from Clinton than from Trump in 2016. Gary Johnson’s (Libertarian) support was more complicated, but there is reason to believe he hurt Clinton more than Trump.
This isn’t the first time it’s happened, either. In 1992, Ross Perot won 19% of the vote, leading many to believe — although the data is less definitive — that he made it possible for Bill Clinton to win. Overall, Biden and Trump gained 98.1% of the vote combined, limiting third party candidates to less than 2% of the vote. Add to that a tremendous turnout, and you get the results we got.
Trump Sucked That Much
In both 2016 and 2020, about 82 million voters had a negative opinion of Trump. In 2016, 12 million of those (15%) nevertheless voted for Trump, while this time around, only about 4 million (5%) of those disapproving of Trump voted for him. That’s about 8 million people who stomached Trump when Hillary Clinton was the alternative in 2016 that voted for Joe Biden in 2020.
2020 Exit Polling: Defund the Police?
There was criticism for those skeptical of the #defundthepolice hashtag. The data from New York City seems to confirm that atleast some of the skepticism was warranted.
New York City swung towards Trump by 7.6 points between ’16 and ’20, far more than any state in the nation. The rest of the state swung against Trump by 5.1 points. In fact, Staten Island is the only NYC borough that didn’t swing towards Trump between ’16 and ’20.
You read that correctly. Biden gained ground among whites, Trump gained ground among minorities. Pro-Trump swing by borough, ’16-’20:
- Bronx +11.8
- Queens +8.6
- Brooklyn +7.6
- Manhattan +3.0
- Staten Island -0.2
It seems #defundthepolice did not scare whites enough into voting for Trump. It also seems that it may have alienated atleast some minority groups who benefit from and serve in law enforcement from the Democratic Party. It’s difficult to dismiss the effectiveness of #defundthepolice without acknowledging the energy activists brought.