Yesterday the NY Times published an interesting summary of how voting patterns shifted this year. What the Times found is that minority voters of Latino and Asian descent surged in their turnout for President Trump this year, contradicting the presumption that increased turnout among minority voters would be good news for Democrats.
Thousands of new voters across the country turned out in areas with significant numbers of Latinos and residents of Asian descent — populations whose participation in past elections has lagged. And over all, Mr. Trump, whose policies and remarks were widely expected to alienate immigrants and voters of color, won the lion’s share of the additional turnout…
…even as Mr. Trump lost ground in white and Republican areas in and around cities — ultimately leading to his election loss — he gained new votes in immigrant neighborhoods.
The Times piece goes into great detail about the ways in which this shift was seen all over the country including in Democratic strongholds like New York:
In New York City, where 38 percent of residents are immigrants, most areas shifted right, even though they all remained strongly Democratic. This included virtually every predominantly Latino precinct and ones where a majority of residents are of Asian descent.
In the city’s 100 precincts with the largest number of Latinos, Mr. Trump received 18 percent of the vote this year, compared with just 7 percent in 2016. In precincts with large numbers of residents of Asian descent, turnout was up 20 percent, with Mr. Trump winning most of the additional votes.
And the same was true in Los Angeles where Latino voters across the county shifted to the right and in Orange County where Asian voters moved right this election:
In Garden Grove and Westminster, the shift was similar to majority Cuban areas in Florida. Turnout was up 60 percent in precincts where a majority of residents are of Vietnamese descent, and the shift to Mr. Trump was 42 percentage points.
In Florida and Orange County, CA these voters made a differences in close House races, allowing the GOP to take back seats the Democrats had claimed in 2018. But in most of the places where this phenomenon was happening, the shift to the right wasn’t enough to overcome the pre-existing advantage Democrats have with minority voters. Still, the shift is noteworthy. Here’s a table spelling out the surge in GOP voters in precincts where Latinos and Asians are a majority of the population.
This is not how things were supposed to go. It was long assumed that demographics were destiny and that once there were more Latino and Asian voters Democrats would have a permanent majority. That could still happen but it’s also possible that enough minority voters are willing to break ranks that Democrats will need to continue to fight for seats even in California. This is one of those stories that is going to be rewritten every two years with each major election.
And one of the biggest outstanding questions is the degree to which this is all about Trump. Is he responsible for white voters in the suburbs turning away from the GOP and for minority voters turning toward the GOP? Will any of these changes stick once he’s no longer on the ballot? We’ll have to wait until 2024 (or maybe even 2028) to find out.