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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
In my new release Bellwether Blues, a diverse coalition of millennial voters in Ohio’s bellwether county, were attracted to Donald Trump’s 2016 policy platform enough to change their voting persuasion from left to right. But, would that coalition hold in the 2020 election? Given the current status of nationwide results, the answer to that question might surprise you.
Of the 58 swing counties who voted 2x Bush, 2x Obama, and 1X Trump, Trump won a staggering 90% (51 of 58) of these counties in the ’20 election. As evidenced throughout the nation, these traditional 51 Bellwether Counties are not a “flash in the pan”. Their results reflected tremendous gains throughout the country as the Republican Party increased its advantage in state legislatures by 67%. Senator Josh Hawley stated that the GOP is now the Party of the working class. Add “multiracial” to that statement and you have a mandate for a new coalition.
This article takes a look at four demographics which have been traditional Democratic voting blocs, but which have potential to open the door for a new coalition. As the dust is yet to settle on the 2020 election, data is not final, but through the use of county results, county demographics, national polling, and exit polling, it was clear that in spite of predictions to the opposite, Trump and the GOP made gains with these voting blocs, leading to Senator Hawley’s bold proclamation.
Let’s begin by looking at Hispanic voters. Trump improved his share of the national Hispanic vote to 35% and improved his margins in 78 of the nation’s 100 majority-Hispanic counties. In FL alone, Trump garnered 45 percent of the Hispanic vote, an 11-point improvement from his 2016 performance. The effects of this vote were especially notable In Miami-Dade County with 69% of its population being Hispanic. Trump drastically improved his support in Miami-Dade County, going from 333,999 votes in 2016 to 532,833 votes this year. This incredible result had major implications down ballot as two congressional seats swung in favor of Hispanic Republican candidates in this region.
The Left’s embrace of big government, defund police movements, and its embrace of socialism amongst influential elements of the nationwide progressive coalition like the Justice Democrats, opened the door for Hispanics to reconsider their allegiance to the Democratic Party. Venezuela, Cuba, and Brazil are the embodiment of these policies and have caused a wave of Hispanics with South American origins to embrace the conservative vision of faith, free enterprise, rule of law, and limited but effective government.
Black Male Voters
The next and most surprising group which saw gains for Trump was the Black male vote. Based upon nationwide exit polling numbers from the NY Times, Trump was able to double his vote amongst black voters from ’16 to ’20. This trend led to important shifts in six counties in the north-central region of North Carolina with African-American majority populations. Trump was able decrease the Democratic margin of victory by at least 3.15% in each of these counties, topping out at a 6.7% shift in Warren County.
These gains may very well have been regionalized as other parts of the country with African-American majority populations remained staunchly Democrat. Nevertheless, these shifts were a shock to many, and provide hope that incremental gains are possible with the right message. With many black voters claiming COVID as the primary concern in the 2020 election, one has to wonder how many more votes Trump would have earned before the pandemic? Regardless, Trump’s emphasis on life, minority unemployment, opportunity zone investment, criminal justice reform, and American-first foreign policy is breaking ground amongst voters who are considered unreachable for conservatives.
Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the U.S. electorate. According to the Pew Research Center, there were 4.6 million eligible Asian Americans in 2000, by 2020 that number had more than doubled to 11.1 million, representing 5% of eligible voters in the electorate. While this voting bloc is distributed primarily on the coasts, its growth and economic success, will continue to grow its influence. Shockingly to many Democrats, Trump won 30% of the Asian-American vote, an increase of 3% from 2016. While this voting bloc is primarily concentrated on the coasts, should the GOP continue to make inroads, blue-leaning states like California, Hawaii, Nevada, and New Jersey could be impacted. One example of its impact is in Nevada where NBC exit polling showed 40% of Asian Americans supporting Trump, a 10% increase above the national average.
Not only are Asian Americans growing in population, they are also the top income earners of all American ethnic groups. This wealth is coupled by incredible family stability with the lowest divorce rates and the lowest percentage of children growing up in single-parent homes. The overwhelming success of Asian Americans has begun to place them on the wrong side of the intersectionality scale, as they are held on the outside of progressive diversity initiatives. While Asian Americans are incredibly diverse in their faith perspective, many are aligned with the conservative values of family and freedom. Having experienced discrimination themselves, Asian Americans are quick to recognize the dangers of cancel culture and the value of the First Amendment. To increase its share amongst this bloc of voters, conservatives need to emphasize freedom, free enterprise, and family.
White Blue-Collar Voters
This group is likely the most documented of the groups in this coalition. Books such as the Great Revolt, Hillbilly Elegy, and Trump, The Blue-Collar President have outlined how this part of the demographic gravitated to Trump in 2016. While Trump’s 2020 performance amongst this group may have decreased slightly based on early exit polling, non-college whites represent a major part of this new coalition which is comprised of voters that formerly favored Democratic candidates, but have now become a staple of the GOP coalition from top to bottom of the ticket. The influence of this demographic was evidenced in states like Ohio and Iowa.
One county that reflects the power of this coalition is found in the NE corner of Ohio. After voting for the Democratic candidate in 11 straight elections, Mahoning county went for Trump by 1.93 percentage points. Mahoning County is brimming with blue-collar workers with its county seat, Youngstown, being one of the most famous rust belt cities. More than 66% of Mahoning County residents have an Associate’s degree or less and its median household income in 2018 was less than $45,000. Notably, Obama won Mahoning County by 28% in 2012, but when Clinton won by only 3% in 2016, the massive shift to the GOP had already begun.
Mahoning County reflects many counties throughout mainland America full of working class white voters who feel alienated by the beltway elites. Multilateral free-trade deals, multinational institutions, the rise of Cancel Culture, anti-American sentiments among progressive elites have driven these voters away from the Democratic Party. To grow this part of the coalition, conservatives must double-down on the Trump economic strategy of American manufacturing, tax reform, and America-First foreign policy.
Many would argue that this multi-racial working class coalition is untenable as these voters are too diverse for the party of old, wealthy, white men. Yet, they forget that many of these voters were attracted to Trump and the GOP ticket, because of its “outsider” position. The Left’s monopoly on the major institutions of society in education, media, arts & entertainment, and the agencies of government in D.C. have given the GOP the opportunity to champion the underdogs of society. While, the elites hold Trump voters as backwards, racist, and less-than, the GOP must aggressively embrace this new brand and communicate why its policies will lead to flourishing outside of the beltway.