A lot of men were biting dogs in pre- and post-election analysis. “Trump Is Losing Ground With White Voters but Gaining Among Black and Hispanic Americans,” 538 (10/19/20) reported. “The Trump Vote Is Rising Among Blacks and Hispanics, Despite the Conventional Wisdom,” declared an NBC article (11/2/20). “Many Latino Men Are Supporting President Trump This Election,” said NPR (10/28/20), while a CNN headline (11/4/20) said, “More Latino Voters Support Trump in 2020 Than 2016.”
Is that really what the exit polls showed, though? The polls conducted for leading media by Edison Research said in 2016 that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump among Latino voters by 36 points (65% vs. 29%), whereas in 2020, the exit polls said that Biden won those voters by a 34-point margin (66% to 32%). That’s a less-than-seismic shift to revolve a trend piece around.
The Black vote had slightly more movement, from an 80-point margin for the Democrat in 2016 to a 75-point lead in 2020, but neither dismal showing was anything for Trump to boast about. The bottom line, obscured by these demographic gee-whiz stories, is that Trump had a 15-point advantage among whites and a 46-point deficit with people of color.
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Another theme of campaign analysis was Trump’s supposedly fading appeal among seniors: CNN (10/6/20) wrote about “How Trump’s Losing Among Seniors at a Historic Rate.” “Trump Is Losing Seniors. Here’s Why,” Politico (10/15/20) offered. “Trump Trails Among Seniors, Key Group in Many Battleground States,” the Wall Street Journal (10/18/20) reported.
Again, that’s not quite what the exit polls showed. Voters over 65 are still Trump’s best age cohort, giving him 51% of their vote, just 2 percentage points less than he won in 2016. Biden did a little better among seniors than Hillary Clinton did, so Trump’s margin shrank from 8 points to 3 points. But the more dramatic change was among voters under 30, who gave Clinton an 18-point lead and Biden a 27-point one—a surge in youth support that went largely unremarked by media (FAIR.org, 11/3/20).
Exit polls also complicated a favorite trope of campaign coverage: Trump’s “white working-class base.” It’s true that Trump does 15 percentage points better among white voters without college degrees than with them—but what if class involves not just education, but money? Among the almost three-fourths of voters whose households make less than $100,000 a year, Trump trails badly: Biden showed a 15-point lead (57%/42%) among those who make less than $50,000, and was 13 points ahead (56%/43%) with the $50,0oo–$99,999 bracket. Only among the wealthiest quarter did Trump have a lead, winning $100,000+ households 54% to 43%.
Voters with more money tend to vote Republican: There’s a dog-bites-man story that you don’t hear a lot about.