The race gap in the 2020 election

By Cassandra Drumond

Alianza News

In the 2020 election, 66.7% of eligible adults in the US voted, according to the US Elections Project, which is the highest turnout since 1900. Mindy Romero, founder and director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy (CID) and USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy explains: “There should be a conversation on why there was a low turnout among certain groups, instead of pointing out that they failed to vote. There is a deep, ugly long history of racism in this country and it has been polarized by race and ethnicity. Rhetoric around race is seen very differently by people of different racial groups. Many who oppose Trump cannot fathom why anyone would vote for someone they see as racist. Trump supporters report they do not see his actions as racist at all. Many people do not see his words, which are often open to interpretation, as problematic. Also, misleading statements like ‘half of American’s voted for Trump’ is not true because 85 million eligible voters did not vote. So, Trump received about 31% of all eligible votes and Biden received about 33% of eligible votes. This is not representative of the US population. Going forward, regardless of political outcomes, we must all commit to fight for a better America- for both a more representative voting electorate and a less polarized one.”

Arlie Russell Hochschild, sociology professor at U.C. Berkley and author of The Second Shift and most recently, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, explains: “I think it is useful to back up and look at the size of this divide and how Democrats understand Republicans and vice versa. When asking Democrats ‘What percentage of Republicans do you think believe racism is still a problem today?’ They answered about half or 50%, but it was actually 80%. When Republicans were asked ‘How many Democrats do you think believe that policemen are bad people?’ Republicans estimated 50% but in actuality it was 15%. So not only do we disagree, but we don’t even agree on what we disagree on. It’s that bad. In terms of why white voters voted for Trump, my journey in interviewing blue collar Christian White people with only a high school education is they feel like a minority group themselves. They feel that life is rigged against them. They get their picture of reality and they don’t see a group that they belong in. There’s a sense of being left out. We have an image of the Trump supporter, wearing a MAGA hat with a sign, but I have interviewed many supporters all around and that image represents very few. I asked them if Trump has helped at all and the answer is no. No to more coal jobs or no to new industries, and their water is not cleaner. The opiate crisis is not under control. And then they still don’t see the democratic party there, they aren’t reaching out in that area. We need to understand each other to be a coherent country and approach others with the intention of listening and trying to understand.”

Davin Phoenix, Assistant Professor of political science at School of Social Sciences at U.C. Irvine and author of “The Anger Gap: How Race Shapes Emotion in Politics” highlights some of the trends that he has uncovered in years of assessing how race shapes who is publicly angry, he explains: “The main takeaway from the research in the book is that Black people express much less anger than their White counterparts when reflecting on elections that didn’t turn out the way they wanted. There is a pervasive stereotype of the angry Black person. When we see White American’s expressing anger over politics, they are more likely to act on that anger and donate to candidates, go to the voting booth and to contact officials. In contrast, when Latinx, Asian-Americans and Blacks express anger over political issues, they are less likely to overtly express it and instead are more likely to withdraw from politics or pursue alternate forms of acting. By problematizing the disinclination to vote, we are missing the bigger picture of what people of color are feeling.”

Ultimately, “We are in it for the long haul” Arlene states, “A new president will not change the many issues we still have to face together as a country.”