(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Stockdale High School

Opinion: The 2020 election rode on the backs of people of color

With the announcement of president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris, many people nationwide are celebrating the making of history, with the first candidate to beat an incumbent in more than a quarter-century, and the first Black woman to be vice president.
This election, there was a heavy emphasis on voting, leading to the largest voter turnout in over a century and making Biden the most voted for president. Despite such an enormous voter turnout, the presidential race was extremely tight, with Biden winning many states by a fraction of a percent. Many are noting the changing demographics of the U.S. electorate, with an increase of Black, Asian and Latino voters in swing states being the reason Biden managed to rebuild the “blue wall.”
So who should we be giving this victory to?
In Georgia, Stacey Abrams, a politician, lawyer, voting rights activist who served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017 was one of the driving forces behind Georgia’s flip. Abrams, who narrowly lost the race of governor due to speculation of voter suppression, managed to inspire 800,000 voters to partake in the election.
She combated Georgia’s long history of voter suppression by creating a network that actively fought against voter suppression in the state. Many are rightfully crediting her as the reason Georgia, for the first time in 28 years, turned blue. With Abrams’s relentless efforts, Biden won Georgia by 7,000 votes, a small but significant amount.
She has not only established projects in Georgia, but she also launched Fair Fight, which trained voter protection teams in 20 battleground states. Her primary focus was drawing out new voters in Black, Latino and Asian American communities, especially in metro and suburban areas. Her efforts were not only a success in Georgia, but across the nation, others followed her lead.
Not only were people ages 18-29 23% more likely to vote for President Biden, Black, Latino and Asian youth were much more likely to vote blue in comparison to white voters of the same age, according to Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
In key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona youth voters made up upwards of 14% of total voters, playing a critical role in Biden’s victory.
While white youth voted for Biden by a smaller margin (51%), youth of color gave him overwhelming support, especially Black youth (87%) and Latino youth (73%). In states like Georgia and Arizona, Black and Latino youth assistance was especially important, potentially being the reason Biden became more competitive.
Issues like racism, climate change and affordable health care brought an outstanding youth turnout, even more so than in 2016. Racism was the top issue for 35% and the pandemic ranked at the top for 34%, according to CIRCLE’s analysis, and 20% of voters based who got their vote solely on racial inequality.
An incredibly surprising statistic is the larger Latino turnout, something that many struggled to predict. According to Matt Barreto, a political science professor at UCLA, sample sizes for Latinos tend to be too small to draw conclusions about their voting preferences.
“For years, both Democrats and Republicans have been inconsistent and sloppy in their outreach to Latinos,” Shereen Marisol Meraji, the host of NPR’s Code Switch podcast said on NPR.
Despite this, over the years, a pattern has emerged: two-thirds of Latino voters identify as Democratic and are the youngest voting demographic in the United States.
“They have more eligible voters under 30 years old than any other voter demographic, and it’s going to stay that way for a while. We know younger voters lean left,” Meraji said on NPR.
These changing demographics were key to Biden’s win, and now that he will be confirmed in office as the 46th president of the United States, he will have to work hand in hand with increasingly involved youth and people of color.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have a long four years ahead of them and must focus the youth and their concerns, especially in regards to racism. Without their votes, many states would have never flipped.