• The Voter Formation Project

What Happened in 2020: Some Clues

Post-election data analysis is the gift that keeps on giving: this week, data firm Catalist released a report appropriately titled “What Happened in 2020”. We highly recommend giving the full report a read, but today we’re going to take a look at what Catalist’s data says about voters of color.



Takeaway 1: 2020 was the most racially diverse electorate ever.


As we discussed in last week’s post, the white share of the electorate declined from 74% in 2016 to 72%. Turnout growth from 2016 to 2020 was greatest among AAPI voters (a 39% increase) and Latino voters (+31%). These numbers are *huge*, and represented an increase of 0.8% and 1.2% in those groups’ share of the electorate, respectively.


Takeaway 2: 1 in 3 eligible voters did not vote


As we celebrate historic voter turnout and an historically diverse electorate, we have to bear in mind that we can do *so* much better. About half of eligible Latino voters didn’t cast a ballot in 2020, as well as nearly 40% of both Black and AAPI voters. Racial disparities in voting are concentrated in the South and West, where there are nearly as many non-voting people of color as there are voters of color.*


(Equis, 2021)


These numbers need to change, and they can-- we’re dedicated to finding more effective ways to connect with voters of color, and our early results are promising.


*not an accident!


Takeaway 3: New voters were decisive

Nationally, 14% of voters who turned out in 2020 were first-time voters-- people who had never voted in a general election. In states with changing demographics, this figure was even higher: in Nevada and Arizona, about 20% of voters were casting a ballot for the first time, as were about 15% of the voters in both Texas and Georgia


2020 saw record-breaking turnout, with voters of color more represented than ever. Bearing that in mind, 2020 also showed us how far we have to go to reach parity with voting rates of white people. Continuing to engage new voters, and particularly new voters of color, is crucial to making American democracy work for each and every one of us.


Thanks for reading, y’all! Talk soon.


“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” – James Baldwin