Supporters of President Donald Trump chant and wave flags outside the Versailles Cuban restaurant during an Election Night celebration, Tue., Nov. 3, 2020, in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami.
( AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Tanzina Vega: Throughout this election cycle we've been covering Latino voters and the issues driving their votes in our series called “A Votar.” Nationwide exit polling data indicates that the percentage of Latino voters who supported President-elect Joe Biden in 2020 was about the same as the percentage who backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, but on election week, many media outlets scrambled to figure out why a majority of Cuban American voters in Florida cast their ballots for Donald Trump this year.
Even though it appears that President Trump made some significant gains among Latino voters in Florida, in other key States, including Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, Latino supporters were a key part of Joe Biden's victory. Breaking all this down as. Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Global Migration and Demography at the Pew Research Center. Mark, welcome back to the show.
Mark Hugo Lopez: Thank you. It's great to be here.
Tanzina: We mentioned that Latino voters back Biden in similar numbers to what we saw to Hillary Clinton in 2016, but Mark, by the state level, were there any noticeable differences that you saw from 2016 turnout to 2020 turnout?
Mark: Yes, Florida was the one state that you really noticed is different. Back in 2016, Hillary Clinton won about two-thirds of Latino voters vote in Florida, but this year Donald Trump won about 46% and Joe Biden, 53%. Biden still won the Latino voters vote in Florida, but it was a much by a smaller margin than we had seen with Hillary Clinton back in 2016.
Tanzina: A lot of that, of course, came from Cuban American voters, right, Mark?
Mark: That's right in fact, Cuban Americans were one of the groups among Latino voters that we have good detailed information about and you see a change in their support. Back in for example, the Obama years, they were leaning more towards the Democratic Party. In fact, Obama won a majority of Cuban voters in Florida back in 2008, in 2012 but this year, Donald Trump won 56% of the Cuban vote, I can't remember the 42% for Biden.
Again, these are from exit polls and I want to stress that exit polls are a great source of information, but their surveys and their estimates. These are not hard and fast final results, but they do point to a story that suggests some changes in Florida among Latino voters in support for Biden versus Trump compared with previous elections.
Tanzina: Let's talk a little bit and thanks for the note on exit polls, let's talk a little bit about other groups. What about Mexican Americans? Were there any distinct voting patterns that you saw there?
Mark: Yes and this is where Texas is another state that had some interesting results in this election. If you take a look at the counties that are along the US-Mexico border in Texas, the South Texas, many of these counties are 95% plus Hispanic. When you look at the voter turnout results from those States and how people voted in those counties, you'll find it for example, this year, Donald Trump won a larger share of voters in those counties than he did back in 2016 when he was running against Hillary Clinton. What you see is you see, for example, support for Trump in some counties went from about 20% to maybe almost 35% to 40% so a notable increase.
This isn't based on of an exit poll. This is based off of actual counts and tallies from those counties but that is another area where we saw a shift and that's largely a Mexican American population so it's notable that there were some other places in the country where we saw Donald Trump make some gains among Latino voters.
Tanzina: Were any of those games based on gender or what can explain some of those gains, Mark? Because we talked a little bit about the Florida case in which Floridians were inundated, Latino Floridians in particular inundated with a lot of misinformation and campaigns, but what's the story in Texas? Do we know?
Mark: Yes, this is a I think a great question and a great part of the story about Latino voters in 2020. The Cuban vote and also add the Venezuelan vote, which is another group of Latino voters that people talked about in Florida, alone are not enough to explain the support that Trump got this year among Latino voters nationally. Nationally, his support according to the exit polls was at about 32% that looks to be about the same as 2016 when maybe he got about 28%.
I say the same again, because these are surveys and they have margins of error, but what's also interesting here is that you've seen a growing gap between Hispanic men and Hispanic women, at least in their support for Republican and Democratic presidential candidates since 2008. This year, Hispanic men were more strongly for Trump than they were back in 2016.
Another group that I think is important to note though, we don't have exit poll data for them is third generation or higher generation Hispanic Americans, people who are US-born with US-born parents. They tend to be in the Southwest, tend to be Mexican-American,, and that Texas story we talked about a little while ago may be a part of that reflection of the third generation playing a role in leaning more towards the Republican Party, at least according to Pew Research Center polls.
I'd also note evangelicals. When we talk about evangelical voters among Latino voters, you'll see that, for example, you have evangelicals supporting Donald Trump this year among Latino voters nationally more so than say back in 2016. Again, these are cases where you're seeing some shifts among Latino voters. I think that it's not just about Cubans and Venezuelans, but it is more broad-based across the country.
Tanzina: I want to talk a little bit about Puerto Rican voters. We focused on them here. What did they do this year Mark that was interesting?
Mark: Puerto Rican voters are important in a state like Pennsylvania, where the majority of Hispanics who live there are a Puerto Rican origin and in Florida as well. In Florida where we have some good data on this, the exit polls say that Florida's Puerto Rican supported Joe Biden's 69% to 31% for Trump. Now, this is important because Puerto Ricans matched Cubans in size in terms of population and in voters in Florida. This is really something that's just emerged in recent years. Puerto Ricans played a big role in helping Joe Biden win in a state like Pennsylvania and also to help them in how well he did in Florida.
Tanzina: Do we have any information on first-time voters, Mark?
Mark: Yes. This is really interesting because when you talk about Latinos so many are young and so many are first-time voters. It looks like among Latinos who voted according to the exit polls, 37% of them this year were first-time voters.
Tanzina: Mark, this has been a year that has been really characterized by so many things, including protests for racial equality was racial inequity, a major issue for Latino voters this year, many of whom themselves are people of color?
Mark: Yes. In fact, it was the issue cited most as the issue that mattered to their vote this year, according to the exit poll. 39% said racial inequality was the thing that was important to their vote. Now that's ahead of 28%, who said it was the economy, 8% who said it was a Coronavirus, another 8% who said it was healthcare policy, and 11% who said crime and safety, but interestingly, the exit poll also has some other findings in there about race, about Black Lives Matter and Latino voters, which is interesting. For example, Latino voters are split about whether or not they have a favorable or unfavorable view about the Black Lives Matter Movement, 49%--
Tanzina: Does that depend who they are, Mark?
Mark: It does, you find that Democrat supporters or people who supported Joe Biden tended to more strongly in favor of something like Black Lives Matter, but those who supported Donald Trump were less likely to have a favorable view of the movement.
Tanzina: What about age? Were there any notable discrepancies in terms of age?
Mark: The usual patterns that we see for Latino voters on age were present and I want to stress it across all age groups, Joe Biden went all age groups of Latinos, no matter how you cut the data, but you do see that for example, among the younger Latinos so much stronger support and among older Latinos, interestingly also somewhat stronger support. Both almost 70% of each of those two groups supported Joe Biden compared with about 28% to 30% for Donald Trump but those in between 30% and 64% were somewhat less likely to support Joe Biden relatively speaking. About 62% of those two groups, for example, supported Joe Biden compared with about 34% to 35%, for those who are supporting Donald Trump.
Tanzina: I know many people want to be done with the election, but there's still one more election that's critical and that's happening in the state of Georgia, Mark. There are two major Senate races coming up there. Is there any indication from any of these exit polls that could tell us anything about the role of Latino voters in Georgia?
Mark: It's a place where Latinos are, are a growing share of voters in the state and this year Latinos overwhelmingly supported Joe Biden's 62% to 37%, but also what's interesting is in close elections the Latino vote or perhaps might even be of more importance because of the relatively close election results that we've had both for the presidential race, which is the decided in Georgia, but also for these two Senate races. It looks like this could be a very interesting place where Latinos could play an important role once again in the upcoming runoff elections.
Tanzina: We've got about a minute left in the segment Mark, was there anything that stood out to you this year that was unlike other years?
Mark: Yes, it's the way in which we've talked about the Latino vote and we say Latino vote to describe it in a simple way, but that also implies that it's a group of people who have similar viewpoints, but I think the one thing that really came across this year is that most of the discussion started to focus on the differences and the diversity of the population. It's one of the reasons why I say Latino voters as opposed to the Latino vote, but it is interesting that this was a year where that diversity was recognized both before and after the election.
Tanzina: A lot of that is part of your work and thanks so much Mark for being with us. Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Global Migration and Demography at the Pew Research Center. Mark, thanks so much.
Mark: Thank you.
Tanzina: You can go check out all of our “A Votar" series @thetakeaway.org under the special projects tab.
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