Despite an unprecedented health crisis and economic and social unrest, over 140 million Americans cast their ballot in the 2020 Presidential Election, marking the highest voter turnout in American history. Americans held their breath for four days as votes were tabulated, keeping an eye on battleground states where the race would be won or lost. On November 7, 2020, Pennsylvania officially went “blue,” securing the win for Democrat Joe Biden, now the 46th President of the United States.
But many Americans weren’t rejoicing. Two weeks after the official declaration of the Biden presidency, the country finds itself, once again, embroiled in a heated debate about voter fraud. President Donald Trump has yet to concede the election to the President-Elect and is pursuing legal action within several state supreme courts to overturn election results.
A casualty of the political turmoil is voters. Among them, Hispanic voters, who found themselves more divided than ever. For example, in Miami-Dade County in Florida, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats. Nevada and North Carolina also saw a shift in voter support among Hispanics, favoring the Republican ticket. The cultural reasons that explain the change are many, but let’s focus on what the data tells us about Hispanic voters.
Traditionally, the U.S. Hispanic vote has overwhelmingly leaned towards the Democratic ticket (at about 75%+). In the most recent presidential election, however, Hispanic voters were split along state and city lines.
Generic political ads intended to reach broader Hispanic audiences didn’t move the needle much in this election compared to others. This is because U.S. Hispanics have become more acculturated. U.S. Hispanics are not a monolith. Multigenerational differences and countries of origin drive nuances that play out in habits, beliefs, and ultimately behavior.
As more Hispanics integrate into American society, their need-states and attitudes reflect those of other Americans more closely. Thus, tried-and-true appeals to their collective identity are no longer effective, and more segmented approaches must be applied. Both political parties will need to adjust their political ads in future to get buy-in from Hispanic voters.
The presidential polls accurately predicted the Biden win, but they missed the mark on predicting each state's outcomes bringing the effectiveness of traditional methodologies into question. One point of concern is the way pollsters target race and ethnicity in America. The methodology being deployed is at least 30 years old, and the American tapestry has changed significantly since then. Society has become more integrated. The methodology pollsters use should no longer target Hispanics as a race but focus on the “individual” to improve accuracy.
After a big miss with the 2016 election, followed by a slight rebound in 2020, pollsters are working to bolster their credibility. To do that, they must update their polling methodologies to accommodate the changing dynamics of America, and that doesn’t just mean Hispanic population growth, for example. Hispanics, African Americans, Whites, and Asians in this country are more integrated, thus assimilating and sharing more experiences. To inflict cultural bias on any one group with blanket assumptions is detrimental to polling integrity and results in a loss of consumer confidence.
But just as we did in 2016, we’ll continue to study the 2020 polls. Hopefully, we can pinpoint the flaws in methodology and commit to not making the same mistakes in 2024.