Demographic shifts of the 2020 US Presidential campaign season

All indications suggest that the Presidential election will be close. Battleground states have tightened and a number of typically safe states, including Texas and Pennsylvania, have come into play. In spite of this, there are several demographic trends that are of note here that, whilst not garuanteeing Trump a win, are in his favour as well as that of the Republican Party. Likewise, some other trends hold promise for Biden and Democrats at large.

One group that traditionally vote Democratic is Hispanic Americans. According to polling, it also simultaneously represents one of the most dramatic and consequential shifts in voting patterns that’s becoming evident in this campaign season. One NBC News/Marist poll released on the 8th of September gave Trump a four-point lead amongst Latino voters in Florida; Trump won 35 percent of the Latino vote in the state in 2016. He benefited from majority support amongst Florida’s Cuban-American community, which he won with a 54 percent share of the votes. It’s not just Florida, however. Trump has made some considerable gains nationwide. As reported by The Hill:

Another survey from the Latino outreach firm Equis Research showed Biden leading Trump among Hispanic voters statewide at 53 percent to 37 percent. While that lead may seem sizable, it falls short of Clinton’s margins in 2016, when she carried 62 percent of the Latino vote in Florida to Trump’s 35 percent.

A September Wall Street Journal/NBC/Telemundo poll, which conversely (and curiously) found Trump’s performance with Hispanics relatively unchanged (26 percent versus 28 percent in the 2016 election), did, however, find perceptions of him had become considerably more favourable:

The Journal/NBC/Telemundo poll includes some warning signs for Mr. Biden: Mr. Trump’s favorability among Latino voters has improved from four years ago. In September 2016, 78% had a negative view of him, compared with 56% today… Mr. Trump’s best opportunities to build support among Latino voters appear to lie with men and older voters. While 30% of the Latino electorate approves of Mr. Trump’s job performance, 34% of men and 36% of Latinos age 40 and older approve.

Furthermore, following the first presidential debate, a poll by Telemundo found that 66 percent of their Spanish-speaking viewers declared Trump to be the winner of the debate.

As for black voters, there are also promising signs for Trump. According to a Hill-HarrisX poll, Trump’s approval surged nine points with black voters over the Republican National Convention in late August. A John Zogby Strategies/EMI Research Solutions poll around the same time put Trump’s support amongst black voters at 20 percent versus Biden’s 75 percent. Eight percent of blacks voted for Trump in 2016 – even a small uptick in support for Trump amongst black voters could give him a decisive win. An increase in support from black voters has benefited Trump in the traditional Democratic stronghold that is Pennsylvania, which Trump carried in 2016.

White voters, a majority of whom voted for Trump in 2016, are important for Trump in his efforts to gain a second term. Working class, predominantly white, voters in the Rust Belt helped propel Trump to victory in the last election, and it seems likely that not only will Trump retain the vast majority of these voters who voted for him last time, but perhaps even increase his share. It’s not unimaginable that an increase in support in Minnesota’s Iron Range will allow him to carry the state, which he narrowly lost in the last election.

Another typically Democratic voting bloc, which is LGBT voters, seems to have become more favourable toward Trump. A survey of 1200 users of Harper, a dating app for queer males, found 45 percent intended fo vote for Trump. Fourteen percent of LGBT voters backed Trump in 2016, the lowest of any Republican since polls have kept track.

Conversely to these other demographics, senior citizens have come into play in a way which can only be beneficial for Biden’s campaign. Senior citizens, a traditionally Republican demographic, tend to vote in higher proportions than younger citizens. RealClearPolitics sums this up well:

While those 65 and older have long been a powerful voting bloc, this year, Brauer says, given the context of the election, their vote will make the difference… In critical swing states such as here in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida and North Carolina, seniors voted in even higher percentages than the national average, Brauer says. Four years after winning all of those states marginally, Trump cannot afford any softening in their support.

Both Presidential candidates and major parties ought to take note of these trends for their own benefit. Certainly, most of these are in Trump’s favour, however this is no guarantee that he will win. And while individuals’ motivations for voting one way or another are far more complex than mere categorisations and innate characteristics such as race, these are noteworthy from a statistical standpoint nonetheless.

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Liberal conservative. Student & amateur journalist. 📍Sydney, Australia

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William Thorpe

William Thorpe

Liberal conservative. Student & amateur journalist. 📍Sydney, Australia

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