In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.
Trump’s not-so-secret weapon going into the 2020 election was the white working class (noncollege) vote. That weapon didn’t work or didn’t work well enough to save him. The release of Catalist and Census data, as well as other data sources, now allow us to sketch a portrait of that demographic in the 2020 election and how their voting patterns fell short of what Trump needed.
.... White working class voters did indeed shift against Trump in 2020 relative to 2016, albeit not as much as pre-election polls suggested would happen. That 3 point shift against Trump was exactly what Trump didn’t need; what he needed was a 3 point shift toward him to replicate his 2020 success. It’s a popular, if unenlightening, exercise to claim that such-and-such a demographic group “won” the election for Biden, given the small vote margins in a handful of states. I won’t do that here but it’s fair to say that the white working class vote was “the dog that didn’t bark” in 2020. Trump needed more of their support, not less, in 2020 and he just didn’t get it.
The Democrats will hope that dog doesn’t bark—in fact, wags its tail--in 2022 and 2024. That is a challenge the party needs to keep its eye on especially since nonwhite working class voters no longer seem like such a lock.
He bluntly challenged left-wing leaders in his party over matters of policing and public safety. He campaigned heavily in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, often ignoring Manhattan neighborhoods besides Harlem and Washington Heights. And he branded himself a blue-collar candidate with a keen personal understanding of the challenges and concerns facing working-class New Yorkers of color.
With his substantial early lead in the Democratic mayoral primary when votes were counted Tuesday night, Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, demonstrated the enduring power of a candidate who can connect to working- and middle-class Black and Latino voters, while also appealing to some white voters with moderate views.