As of Wednesday morning, Joe Biden seems to have the easiest path to victory in the presidential election. He currently holds leads in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin with most of the remaining votes being mail-ins that should break in his favor. If Biden does pull it off, he may owe a big thank you to white men.
Democrats claimed in 2016 that Trump’s shock victory was the result of white grievance politics. The President’s base, they said, was made up of white working-class voters railing against changing demographics in their country and getting payback for the country electing its first black president. Van Jones famously called it a ‘whitelash’. Early exit returns from 2020, however, reveal what honest observers have understood about the Trump movement for years. His appeal is much less about race and far more about class.
According to the Edison Exit Poll, Trump actually under-performed with white men and over-performed with black men and women and Latino men and women. He reportedly dropped five points among white men, but gained four points each among black men and women and three points each among Latino men and women. He also gained five points in the ‘other’ category.
It’s unclear why exactly Trump lost support among white men. Perhaps it is because he focused his campaign on talking about issues that appeal more to minority voters, like opportunity zones and criminal justice reform and talked less about immigration and manufacturing when compared with 2016. Maybe Biden won over white independents and college degree-holders who sat out the last election.
Regardless of the reasons, the examination of this political realignment will be one of the most fascinating takeaways of this election.