In the 2020 presidential election, Trump made news after reports based on exit polls & actual election data showed his performance with minority voters being the second best of the modern era, only bested by Bush 2004.

However, there are signs that this is at least partly temporary. The same metrics show Ossoff and especially Warnock outrunning Biden with the state's nonwhite voters.

Gallup also showed Biden with only 12% (!) disapproval among nonwhite adults. Why did the minority vote shift back after moving towards the GOP in the presidential election? In other words, was this due to a "surge and decline", Biden's stimulus issues (or something else) changing people's minds, or something else?

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    To what extent is the shift in minority voters backed by data? In 2020 there were 2 serious con founders: the partisan nature of kaolin voting and vastly higher turnout across the board. Is there good evidence that Trump did significantly better with nonwhites when you take mail-in votes into account? And if so, is there evidence that this was the result of changed minds rather than high turnout activating low-propensity non-white voters who might have leaned (relatively) right? And if so, was this true in GA, where your evidence for a shift back comes from?
    – divibisan
    May 1, 2021 at 16:28
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    nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/20/us/politics/… -- nationally. May 1, 2021 at 22:09
  • I have seen evidence that this was the result of low propensity voters who leaned right relative to those who turned out. It was true in Georgia. The shift from black voters was not as large as Hispanic voters nationally and therefore it was less in Georgia, and that would fit with the turnout narrative because Black turnout was up less. May 1, 2021 at 22:18
  • Skeptical of the premise.
    – ohwilleke
    May 3, 2021 at 22:17

1 Answer 1


You're comparing apples and oranges in many different respects.

a. Trump Vote =/= Biden Disapproval. Not everyone who voted for Donald Trump did so because they hated Joe Biden, some just supported Trump more. Initial approval ratings of presidents in their first 100 day grace period are usually higher than their share of the vote (Trump being an outlier), likely because people who didn't vote for them are keeping an open mind. Obama's initial approval rating among Republicans was 43%; I guarantee you half of Republicans did not vote for him.

b. Voters =/= General Public. Only about two-thirds of eligible voters participated in the 2020 election. The electorate is in general older, more educated, and wealthier than the general population. It wouldn't be surprising that Biden would poll better among all Americans than voters specifically.

c. Improvement =/= Winning. Donald Trump definitely improved on his share of the minority vote, but he still only received 26% of the non-white vote. He improved from very, very, very unpopular to very, very unpopular. That was newsworthy because even small margins like that can swing states with high Hispanic and Black populations, but it's not as far off from Biden's disapproval numbers as you might think.

All of which is to say there's no solid evidence of an actual shift. That said, there was a very real documented polling collapse for Donald Trump after the January 6th attack in a span of merely days. It wouldn't be that much of a stretch to assume that could have translated to higher Biden approval as well. But the data just isn't as clear-cut as you think.

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