New Data Shows How and Why Trump's Election Gambit Failed

A swing of just 21,459 votes from Biden to Trump would have reversed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
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Low Propensity Voters

The GOP drew voters who skipped prior elections, new data show, but that was at the expense of some habitual voters.

Trump's strategy nearly paid off according to analysis by TargetSmart as reported by the Wall Street Journal. 

Please consider the WSJ report Trump Found Millions of New Voters in 2020. Will They Turn Out for Next Year’s Midterms?

New analyses by TargetSmart, a Democratic voter-data firm, and the Republican National Committee found that more of these “low-propensity voters” chose to register as Republicans than Democrats in several of the closest battlegrounds, including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

The results present both good news and a challenge for the Republican Party. The data help explain how Mr. Trump won 11 million more votes in 2020 than in his first election and show that his campaign drew new supporters to the GOP, an effort that focused most intensely on reaching working-class and rural voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other battlegrounds.

But the strategy came with a gamble. In engaging more working-class and rural Americans, Mr. Trump forfeited a measure of support from professional-class and suburban voters in the process, losing people who show up regularly for elections in favor of those with inconsistent voting records. That has left Republicans with an increased reliance on voters who likely need an extra push to turn out again, analysts in both parties say.

Tom Bonier, chief executive of TargetSmart, said that, “Trump’s strategy did alienate higher-educated, white suburban voters,” a group that he called the “highest-turnout demographic.” “So, to the extent that the Republican Party’s coalition is shifting, that’s built on a necessity of turnout among newer and less-likely voters,” Mr. Bonier said.

As is typically the case with mainstream media, the Journal did not link to outside sources. One has to go digging, so I did. 

Asian American Pacific Islander Vote

The AAPI vote is not one that I would have considered influential, but TargetSmart has interesting stats in its report The Unprecedented Impact of the AAPI Vote on the 2020 Election.

A swing of just 21,459 votes from Biden to Trump would have reversed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. That equates to one one-hundredth of one percent of the record setting total turnout of more than 158 million votes cast. The relative closeness of this election has been well-reported. What has perhaps been missed in the many election post-mortems is the decisive role that Asian Americans played in delivering the Biden-Harris ticket to victory.

At this point we’ve compiled the individual vote history for 98.5% of the 2020 general election voters. This extensive dataset affords us the opportunity to better understand the composition of the electorate. Of the 154.5 million voters for whom we’ve compiled individual vote history, just over 4 million are Asian American. That equates to 2.6% of all ballots cast. Relative to the last presidential election, in 2016, the total number of ballots cast by AAPI voters increased by over 47%. For context, the total turnout for all other voters increased by only 12%.

This massive surge in turnout was a key factor in determining the outcome of some of the closest presidential contests at the state level. In fact, the percent increase in AAPI votes cast in Georgia was the second highest state-level increase in the nation. AAPI turnout in Georgia increased by almost 62,000 votes over 2016. Considering that the Biden-Harris ticket carried the state by fewer than 12,000 votes, the AAPI surge was clearly decisive. What’s more, Arizona and Nevada were both in the top 10 for AAPI surge vote, and both saw their presidential contests won by margins of just tens of thousands of votes. Across all of the presidential battleground states, AAPI turnout increased by 357,969 votes, a breathtaking 48% increase in turnout.

Most Diverse Electorate in History

TargetSmart comments on a Tool to Analyze the Most Diverse Electorate in History

  • Nationally, total turnout increased by 12% relative to 2016, turnout among AAPI voters surged by 43% and Latino turnout increased by almost a third of all votes cast.
  • 49,984,595 Americans who voted in 2020 didn’t vote in 2016.
  • 16,865,697 Americans voted for the first time in 2020 and comprised 10.9% of the electorate.
  • Non-college educated whites dropped from 53.8% of the electorate in 2016 to 49.2% in 2020.

More Young Americans Voted than Ever Before

Also consider More Young Americans Voted than Ever Before. What do we Know About Them?

In 2020, more young voters cast a ballot than ever before. In total, voters aged 18-39 accounted for more than 44 million voters in 2020, compared to under 39 million voters in that age group in 2016. Who were these voters and what does that tell us about the emerging electorate?

Hispanic voters represented 7.8% of the electorate nationwide, but when you look at the vote share among 18 – 29 year olds, Hispanics accounted for 13.1% of the electorate. We see a similar trend with African American voters who represented 8.3% of the electorate while they accounted for 8.8% of voters in that age group. The surge is even more striking for AAPI voters who represented 2.6% of all voters and 3.2% of voters ages 18-29, a massive increase for a relatively small population.

Among states that report party registration, Democrats have a profound edge among voters age 18-39. 52% of voters age 18-29 are registered Democrats, compared to 34.8% Republican. 53% of voters age 30-39 are registered as Democrats compared to 34.1% Republican.

Small Things Matter

Trump rallied nearly 50 million people to vote in 2020 who did not vote in 2016. However, we do not know how they voted. The results themselves suggest something very close to an even split.

Nor do we know how the AAPI vote went. However, we do know that the AAPI vote was big enough to turn the election in Georgia and perhaps Arizona and Nevada as well. 

No one that I am aware of had their eyes on the AAPI vote. But In close elections, small things matter.

Looking Ahead 

The WSJ commented "Trump forfeited a measure of support from professional-class and suburban voters. That has left Republicans with an increased reliance on voters who likely need an extra push to turn out again, analysts in both parties say."

I certainly agree with the first sentence. It is why I predicted Trump would lose. 

I am unconvinced about conventional wisdom. Trump radicalized voters on the Left and Right. 

50 million more people voted but a swing of just 21,459 (albeit in precisely the right places) would have turned the election. 

How many of those 50 million will vote again? More importantly, what happens to the  professional-class and suburban voters?

That's where I believe the WSJ and TargetSmart fall short in analysis. Also, there are short-term and long-term impacts neither set of articles addressed.

Short-Term vs Long-Term Impacts

The deciding factor in the 2022 midterm elections is likely to be professional-class and suburban voters.

That swing cost Trump the 2020 election. Had he been a tiny bit less antagonistic, more empathetic, and handled Covid a bit better he would have won. But then he would not have been Trump. 

Long-term, demographics is the big problem Republicans face. The only saving grace for the Republicans is the big-state, small-state, urban-rural divide that keeps Republicans in the Senate and state gubernatorial elections.

For example, demographics suggest Texas will eventually go Blue. But Senate-wise, that could easily be at the expense of a Whiter New Hampshire going Red.

Where to Next? 

Biden's extreme reach out to Wokeness, Progressives, BLM, anti-white racial targeting, education nonsense, and higher taxes, is highly likely to cost Democrats in the midterms. 

It's possible, if not likely, the economic impact of free money peaks to early. 

Factor in Kamala Harris' poor performance at the border. Is anyone happy?

Finally, the party in power normally loses seats in the midterm elections and Democrats have nothing to spare. 

Perhaps Democrats win the Senate outright but at a cost of the House. They could easily lose both. Winning both would be difficult.

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