Nerve Endings Firing Away

Generalizing Voters based on Race

[@pratik]( missed this one last night. I have seen this a lot on social media, this stat. it doesnt tell one anything. People have lots of reasons for voting the way they do. I can just as easily point out that many PoC voted for Trump (and will in 2024). What does that tell me? Not much other than there are lots of people out there likely voting against their best interests regardless of their race.


In an unrelated thread, Jason raised this popular yet mistaken take (in response to this response I made on the same post) on why we can’t generalize who votes for Trump if a PoC has voted for Trump. I said “mistaken” because it assumes that only if no PoC voted for Trump should we ascribe blame on white people for supporting Trump. Why? Because it’s all in the percentages. Hence, I mentioned ‘a majority’ and not ‘all.’

Back in 2016, I spent way more time than I should have in parsing the results of that election to understand what went wrong. I’m a numbers and statistics guy, so I dug into the post-election crosstabs, and it turned out that, except for the white people, the majority of all groups voted against Trump. But in America, where still 69% of the electorate is non-Hispanic white, the group matters. A lot. But you might argue, as Jason does, that every group has a few bad apples who vote “against their interest.” I’ll ignore the fallacy that white people were voting against their interests when they voted for Trump and instead present graphs, tables, and other statistics from reputable sources.

The image is a chart titled “All major racial and ethnic voter groups lean Democratic, except Whites,” showing the percentage of registered voters by race and ethnicity who identify with or lean toward the Republican (red lines) and Democratic (blue lines) parties.

The headline couldn’t be more emphatic. If not for the Whites, Republicans would never win any election.

A chart showing the share of votes for presidential candidates in the United States by gender and race/ethnicity for the years 2016, 2018, and 2020. Data includes the percentage who voted for Clinton, Trump, and Biden

This is the chart that makes my case. It shows the voting trends between the groups by gender, race, and the interaction between the two (white men, etc.) Yes, some PoC voted for Trump, but only a minority of any PoC group. Between just the two genders, women voted against Trump. But if you look closely, more white women voted FOR Trump than against despite having the chance to vote for a historic first woman President against a guy caught on tape a month before the election admitting sexual assault.

You’ll say Clinton was a lousy candidate. But worse than Trump? Ok. Let’s give you that Clinton was a bad enough candidate to consider not voting for her even if you didn’t like Trump. But against Biden, the vote share for Trump among White women actually went up. In fact, they voted for Dems in 2018 when Trump was NOT on the ticket. WTH!

White men basically put Trump in the White House in 2016. They flipped somewhat to Biden, thus ensuring his victory. White people still have much more power than they think. Anyway, back to our original point, more white men than not voted for Trump in 2020.

The real heroes that are still making sure we have a democracy? Black women. They are better than even their male counterparts, more of whom actually opted to vote for Trump in 2020 compared to 20161.

Here’s another chart showing the wide gap among white people on their voting preferences between the two parties. Yes, there are plenty of white people voting for the Dems, but never more than half of them. Wake me up when the vote share just among white people for the Republicans falls below 50%. Until then, don’t expect the PoC to show up every election to save your democracy. You may have to work within your white families and friends to show them the light.

A bar chart from the Pew Research Center showing the racial and ethnic composition of validated voters in the United States for the years 2016, 2018, and 2020, divided into total voters, Democratic voters, and Republican voters.

But..but, my family is educated, and we definitely know better than to vote for Trump. Well, to be honest, that’s what I thought too in 2016. I worked in the field of expanding college access at the time and thought that if you are educated enough, you will make an informed choice and not vote for the racist. Unfortunately, I was proven wrong. That shook me to my core more than anything else.

The image shows a table depicting voter preferences in the United States based on education and race for candidates Clinton and Trump. There are four categories: white college graduates, whites with no degree, non-white college grads, and non-whites with no degree.

[source: The Bird Site]. Sigh!

  1. Of course, some of that is due to the voter suppression tactics employed by the ruling GOP fully knowing that instead of trying to win them over, they might as well disenfranchise them ↩︎

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