TThe key to the Democrats’ victory in America in 2020 is hidden in plain sight: their success in forming a multiracial coalition. While Republicans were overwhelmingly reliant on white voters alone, poll data indicates that Democrats convinced white voters along with Latino, Black, Asian American, and Native American voters to form a powerful coalition. The success of the Democrats in 2020 provides a roadmap for winning future elections.
America is a multiracial nation and the Democrats are a multiracial coalition. But this can be difficult to recognize from the way most surveys are reported. In almost all cases, statistics break down voting patterns by race, for example, they report that 87% of blacks and 65% of Latinos voted for Joe Biden, while 58% of whites pulled the ballot. lever for Trump. Political reports are saturated with information highlighting the voting patterns of discrete racial groups, but figures on the coalitions assembled are almost nowhere to be found.
The problem is not the statistics themselves. Pollsters provide numerical answers to the questions asked. When it comes to race, conventional political wisdom urges dividing groups into competing racial camps. But that routine division of racial groups accepts the Republican basic framework of American politics, blinding the Democrats to their great strength as a multiracial coalition.
Since the 1960s, Republicans have campaigned with a message of racial conflict. They urge whites to be threatened by demands for racial equality, as well as immigration from continents other than Europe. Republican rhetoric is often codified, replacing racial epithets and outspoken endorsements of white supremacy with terms like “thugs,” “welfare queens,” and “illegal aliens.” Still, the underlying message remains ubiquitous: Racial groups are locked in conflict (whites against everyone else) and everyone must choose a racial side.
When Democrats and liberal pundits analyze voting by racial bloc rather than multiracial coalition, they inadvertently reinforce this mindset. The group conflict mentality fosters the view that each racial group has competing interests and strongly implies the existence of unavoidable trade-offs in recruiting people from different racial groups. No Democratic presidential candidate has won a majority of the white vote since 1964, so Democrats know they must form a multiracial coalition. Yet viewing voters through the lens of competing racial teams often pushes Democratic strategists to see the need to build cross-racial solidarity as a drag.
However, look at the 2020 coalitions. Based on available exit survey dataBlack voters made up 22% of all those who voted for Joe Biden, Latino voters made up 16%, and Asian Americans made up another 5%. In other words, Biden won with 43% of his total vote coming from black, Latino and Asian American voters, combined with 53% of his support coming from white voters.
In contrast, Donald Trump’s “coalition” hardly deserves that name. White voters provided 82% of their support. Only 3% of the Trump team were African-American, and Asian-Americans just shy of that number. Latinos were 9% of Trump’s voters, but this exaggerates the racial diversity of the Trump coalition. Latinos differ among themselves about how they racially identify. In a poll conducted by one of us in July, 13% of those who view Latinos as people of color indicated that they would vote for Trump, compared to 32% of those who view Latinos as ethnically white.
Visualized in this way, one immediately sees that the notion of contending racial armies – and especially the extreme version of the Republicans, which portrays whites as besieged – is obviously false. When viewed in terms of discrete groups, the majority of whites voted for Trump. But when viewed in terms of coalitions, white voters also made up the majority of Biden’s supporters. What sense does it make to describe whites as a racial bloc, much less as an endangered group?
But it is also seen that, in American politics, race nevertheless remains highly relevant. The question for most voters is not which racial group they belong to: black or white, Latino or Asian. It’s the kind of racial future they hope for: one in which they must barricade themselves to protect their family against unknown and threatening strangers, or one in which their family will thrive best in communities that promote respect, curiosity, and collaboration.
For the most part, Democrats have been slow to sharpen this basic choice between conflict or collaboration, leaving voters to figure it out on their own. Still, many seem to have figured it out. Too often they themselves are the targets of racist barricades, African Americans overwhelmingly (but not uniformly) reject the political party driving the conflict. Most Latinos and Asian Americans do as well, although some seem to believe that they will join the mainstream if they help close the doors behind them.
Among white voters, the greater tendency of those with college and urban degrees to vote Democrats may reflect greater confidence in a collaborative multiracial future. This emerging sense of destiny linked across racial lines is evident in the multiracial coalition that handed over the presidency to the Democrats.
Republicans suspect that in 2024 they are likely to face a mixed-race black and Asian presidential candidate in the person of the current vice president-elect, Kamala Harris. Even if that doesn’t happen, they certainly see a country with a non-white population on the rise. With or without Trump, Republicans are likely to continue campaigning on issues of threats and racial conflict. If so, they will view the Democratic Party as the party of racial minorities, and if Harris is the Democratic nominee, she will be the inevitable bogeyman.
For Democrats, a successful answer is already at hand. They are not the party of a non-white clique, as the right alleges. They also don’t need to be a whites-first party, as is too often the case when Democrats believe they must choose between racial constituencies. Instead, they are the party of the racial coalition, and within this new majority, each racial group has an equal and valued role. In other words, for Democrats, the multiracial coalition they need to win has already come together. Now Democrats must lean on him.
One way to do this is to promote data that shows that a multiracial coalition is already forming. Rather than relying almost exclusively on statistics that divide people into separate groups, Democrats (and the media) should also ask for and publish coalition numbers. Indeed, Democrats should make their success in building cross-racial solidarity a central aspect of their brand, popularizing the idea that they represent a future in which all groups, by coming together, can find security and freedom to prosper. . The numbers, when we make them visible, show that Democrats represent the hope of our multiracial society.
Ian Haney López is a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America.
Kristian Ramos is the founder of Autonomy Strategies and former director of communications for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.