Where Immigrant Neighborhoods Swung Right in the Election

Across the United States, many areas with large populations of Latinos and residents of Asian descent, including ones with the highest numbers of immigrants, had something in common this election: a surge in turnout and a shift to the right, often a sizable one.

The pattern was evident in big cities like Chicago and New York, in California and Florida, and along the Texas border with Mexico, according to a New York Times analysis of voting in 28,000 precincts in more than 20 cities.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. beat President Trump in almost all of these places en route to his record popular vote victory. But the red shifts, along with a wave of blue shifts in Republican and white areas, have scrambled the conventional wisdom of American politics and could presage a new electoral calculus for the parties.


Thousands of new voters across the country turned out in areas with significant numbers of Latinos and residents of Asian descent — populations whose participation in past elections has lagged. And over all, Mr. Trump, whose policies and remarks were widely expected to alienate immigrants and voters of color, won the lion’s share of the additional turnout.

It’s true that not all of the residents of these areas are immigrants, and many of those born abroad are not citizens and so are ineligible to vote. But typically, immigrants settle in places where others like them already live, and their presence is a bellwether of similar populations and successive generations of earlier immigrants.


Change in votes cast from 2016 to 2020, in precincts where the combined population of Latinos and residents of Asian descent is at least 65 percent

Areas are ordered by number of Latino and Asian residents, from most to least.

Biden

Trump

Precincts
analyzed

Countywide
2020 result

Los Angeles

+23%

  +78%

1,544

+44 Biden

New York City

  +2%

  +78%

1,164

+31 Biden

Houston

+14%

  +59%

237

+13 Biden

Miami

  -6%

  +61%

416

+7 Biden

Orange County, Calif.

+24%

  +73%

419

+9 Biden

Chicago

  +2%

  +49%

407

+50 Biden

Phoenix

+46%

  +64%

69

+2 Biden

San Diego

+21%

  +59%

118

+23 Biden

San Antonio

+27%

  +42%

258

+18 Biden

Dallas

+24%

  +33%

70

+32 Biden

San Jose

+19%

  +94%

194

+48 Biden

Las Vegas

+10%

  +54%

76

+9 Biden

Denver

+19%

  +32%

33

+61 Biden

Fort Worth

+22%

  +31%

154

0 Biden

Atlanta area

+29%

  +51%

11

+22 Biden

Orlando

  +4%

  +70%

16

+23 Biden

Albuquerque

+25%

  +38%

122

+22 Biden

Philadelphia

-17%

+111%

100

+64 Biden


Notes: Returns are from an entire county or counties in which a city is located. The Atlanta area numbers are for Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett Counties. Numbers for Joseph R. Biden Jr. show the change from votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

With only a few exceptions, all of these areas continued to be Democratic strongholds, giving more votes to Mr. Biden by substantial margins. But in a divided American electorate, any shift can be consequential. Already the shift appears to have changed outcomes in a number ofcongressional races.

Asian-Americans and Latinos are growing parts of the American electorate. Currently, about 13 percent of eligible voters are Hispanic, and 4 percent are Asian-American. By 2032, Hispanic voters are predicted to make up 18 percent of the electorate and the Asian-American share is also expected to grow.

The chronically low turnout in both groups has been a continuing riddle, but the voters in each group — while widely diverse in background, income and outlook — had leaned heavily Democratic over all. And they had been viewed as likely to tip the scales for Democrats in the future.

Latino growth in particular had figured in experts’ predictions of the decline of Republican influence in battleground states like Texas, Florida and Arizona. That could change, however, with the 2020 turnout surge and Mr. Trump’s success at peeling off voters.

“There remains a huge reservoir of Latino nonvoters and low-propensity voters,” said Roberto Suro, a professor of journalism and public policy at the University of Southern California. “And if increased turnout improves the G.O.P. share, that would overturn a great deal of conventional wisdom about the political impact of demographic change.”

The Times analysis also shows that in urban and suburban precincts with the highest proportion of white voters, turnout also rose steeply, but Mr. Trump’s margin declined in those places, compared with 2016. It also fell in Republican precincts: In 3,600 of the 5,000 precincts where he beat Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump’s margin in 2020 was lower than it was in 2016.

But even as Mr. Trump lost ground in white and Republican areas in and around cities — ultimately leading to his election loss — he gained new votes in immigrant neighborhoods.



It wasn’t just the Cuban areas in Miami.







Shift in margin from 2016

Fort

Lauderdale

More Democratic

More Republican

Areas where 30% or more are born abroad

Pembroke

Pines

Darker areas are majority Cuban

Miami

Beach

Biscayne Bay

Fort

Lauderdale

Pembroke

Pines

Darker areas are majority Cuban

Miami

Beach

Biscayne Bay

Shift in margin from 2016

More Democratic

More Republican

Areas where 30% or more are born abroad

Shift in margin from 2016

More Democratic

More Republican

Areas where 30% or more are born abroad

Fort

Lauderdale

Pembroke

Pines

Darker areas are majority Cuban

Miami

Beach

Biscayne Bay







Areas that are more than 50% Latino

Lake

Apopka

Areas that are more than 50% Latino


There were substantial variations in the level of turnout and in the magnitude of the shift in different populations, including large shifts and turnout in Cuban precincts; huge turnout and milder shifts in Mexican precincts in Arizona; and big shifts and modest turnout in Dominican neighborhoods of New York City. But almost everywhere, there was a turnout increase, and a rightward shift.

The Times analysis included 5,700 precincts in which the combined population of Latinos and people of Asian descent was 65 percent or more. In these places, the margin shifted toward the president by an average of 13 points.



A blue shift in urban Texas, except in Mexican neighborhoods.




The long-anticipated purpling of Republican Texas that was supposed to come as more Latinos joined the electorate was certainly nowhere in evidence on Election Day.

Mr. Trump’s most sizable gains outside of Miami were in the Rio Grande Valley in the predominantly Hispanic areas along the border with Mexico, including Hidalgo County, home to McAllen.







Shift in margin from 2016

More Democratic

More Republican

Counties that are more than 50% Latino


AustinHoustonDallasFort WorthSan AntonioEl PasoMcAllen

In San Antonio, the nation’s biggest majority Latino city, turnout was up nearly 30 percent. Democrats hoped to flip the 23rd Congressional District in southwest Texas, including much of the city, but failed.






SAN ANTONIO

80%+

Latino

50%+

Latino

SAN ANTONIO

80%+

Latino

50%+

Latino


In fact, Democrats had spent lavishly in attempts to win Republican congressional seats in suburban areas around the other big cities as well.

“They were banking to win on the backs of Black and brown and Asian voters,” said Chuck Rocha, a Latino organizer who was a senior adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders during the primaries. “They lost all of these areas.”

In Dallas and Fort Worth, the trend held in areas that are predominantly Latino even as mostly white areas drove the counties left in the presidential race.






Fort Worth

Areas that are more than 50% Latino

Fort Worth

Areas that are more than 50% Latino

Fort Worth

Areas that are more than 50% Latino


Across Texas, the red shifts were most pronounced in precincts with the highest proportion of Latinos. The Democratic margin in 80 percent Latino precincts dropped an average of 17 percentage points.


Change in votes cast from 2016 to 2020, in precincts that are at least 80 percent Latino

Biden

Trump

Precincts
analyzed

Countywide
2020 result

Houston

  +7%

  +60%

111

+13 Biden

San Antonio

+18%

  +53%

138

+18 Biden

Dallas

+18%

  +49%

26

+32 Biden

McAllen

  +7%

  +93%

226

+17 Biden

Fort Worth

+23%

  +58%

42

0 Biden


Notes: Returns are from an entire county or counties in which a city is located. Numbers for Mr. Biden show the change from votes for Mrs. Clinton in 2016.



Pennsylvania

A swing state flips blue, as Philadelphia shifts to the right.






In the city of immigrants, Democrats lost ground almost everywhere.







Shift in margin from 2016

More Democratic

More Republican

Areas that are more than 50% Latino or more than 50% Asian

Mr. Trump’s share of the vote doubled to 15 percent in areas where residents of Dominican descent make up the majority.

There was uniform shift to Mr. Trump in both Flushing and Corona, neighborhoods with high populations of Latinos and Asians.

Williamsburg

In mostly Orthodox Jewish Williamsburg and Borough Park, already pro-Trump, there was a further shift to the right.

Sunset Park

Sheepshead

Bay

Jamaica Bay

Staten

Island

Rockaway

Beach

Brighton

Beach

The few areas in the city that did not shift right were mostly white, including most precincts on Staten Island.

Areas that are more than 50% Latino or more than 50% Asian

Shift in margin from 2016

More Democratic

More Republican

Mr. Trump’s share of the vote doubled to 15 percent in areas where residents of Dominican descent make up the majority.

There was uniform shift to Mr. Trump in both Flushing and Corona, neighborhoods with high populations of Latinos and Asians.

Williamsburg

In mostlly Orthodox Jewish Williamsburg and Borough Park, already pro-Trump, there was a further shift to the right.

Sunset

Park

Jamaica Bay

Sheepshead

Bay

Staten

Island

Rockaway

Beach

The few areas in the city that did not shift right were mostly white, including most precincts on Staten Island.

Shift in margin from 2016

More Democratic

More Republican

Areas that are more than 50% Latino or more than 50% Asian

Mr. Trump’s share of the vote doubled to 15 percent in areas where residents of Dominican descent make up the majority.

There was uniform shift to Mr. Trump in both Flushing and Corona, neighborhoods with high populations of Latinos and Asians.

Sheepshead

Bay

Staten

Island

The few areas in the city that did not shift right were mostly white, including most precincts on Staten Island.

Shift in margin from 2016

More Democratic

More Republican

Areas that are more than 50% Latino or more than 50% Asian

Mr. Trump’s share of the vote doubled to 15 percent in areas where residents of Dominican descent make up the majority.

There was uniform shift to Mr. Trump in both Flushing and Corona, neighborhoods with high populations of Latinos and Asians.

Williamsburg

In mostly Orthodox Jewish Williamsburg and Borough Park, already pro-Trump, there was a further shift to the right.

Jamaica Bay

Sheepshead

Bay

Staten

Island

The few areas in the city that did not shift right were mostly white, including most precincts on Staten Island.




California

In the center of Asian immigration, a veer to the right.





Change in votes cast from 2016 to 2020, in precincts in Los Angeles and Orange Counties

Biden

Trump

Precincts
analyzed

Majority Vietnamese

  +5%

+156%

22

Majority Chinese

+38%

  +60%

33


Note: Numbers for Mr. Biden show the change from votes for Mrs. Clinton in 2016.

In Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley, some of the strongest shifts to the right were in precincts with sizable populations of residents of Vietnamese descent in San Jose. Precincts with large populations of residents of Indian and Chinese descent had rightward shifts, but they were not as pronounced.






Santa Clara

Areas that are more than 50% Latino or more than 50% Asian

Santa Clara

Areas that are more than 50% Latino or more than 50% Asian




What does it mean? A battle over the narrative


The reasons behind the new crosscurrents in the American polity will be debated for years to come.

Some Latino Democrats argue that the eddies of this shift are less important than the tide of Latinos — and Asian-Americans as well — who still voted mostly for Mr. Biden, and who deserve a large share of credit for Mr. Trump’s defeat.

“So far, the white-person-driven narrative to blame Hispanics has been utterly racist, given that a strong majority of white people voted to re-elect Trump and a majority of Hispanics voted for Biden,” said Matt A. Barreto, a political scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles and a founder of the polling firm Latino Decisions, who worked for the Biden campaign.

Indeed, in Maricopa County in Arizona, home to Phoenix, the overall turnout even in Latino precincts that shifted right was so large that it added far more votes to Mr. Biden’s totals than Mr. Trump’s, and was instrumental in turning the state blue, in spite of the shift.






Scottsdale

Areas that are more than 50% Latino

Scottsdale

Areas that are more than 50% Latino

Scottsdale

Areas that are more than 50% Latino


Republicans argue that the election represents the beginnings of a realignment of conservative, religious working people in immigrant communities and communities of color into their party.

“#Florida & the Rio Grande Valley showed the future of the GOP,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, tweeted after the election. “A party built on a multi-ethnic multi-racial coalition of working AMERICANS.”

“The Latino conservatives feel a lot of momentum,” said Geraldo L. Cadava, a professor at Northwestern University and author of a book on Latino Republicans. They had argued that Mr. Trump could win Latino voters, not with the Bushesque strategy of moderation on immigration, but with a Reaganesque message of personal responsibility and hard work, he said.

And Mr. Trump spent money reaching out.

“It’s a split-screen reality,” Dr. Cadava said. “On one hand, there are the tweets, and Trump giving Stephen Miller free rein to do the worst things imaginable. But at the same time, they are articulating a broad-based appeal to Latinos based on the economy and freedom of religion.”

Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, said he worried before the election that Democrats’ focus on racial justice issues came at the expense of outreach about easing the lives of hard-pressed workers.

“In general, it suggests that Democrats’ theory of the case — that their electoral problems were all about race rather than class — was incorrect,” he said.

Mr. Rocha, the Sanders organizer, lamented the Democrats’ failure to make a strong case to Latino and Asian-American voters, and he acknowledged that the president’s bully pulpit and deep pockets could have made a difference.

“When you have a candidate who has 1,000 percent name ID and is spending a lot of money, if you lie long enough about having a horse, someone will buy you a saddle,” he said. “New immigrant voters are infrequent voters, and they’re hungry for information. We need to have Democrats telling our immigration story.”

All countries
136,128,375
Total confirmed cases
Updated on April 11, 2021 11:15 am
Italy
3,754,077
Total confirmed cases
Updated on April 11, 2021 11:15 am
Spain
3,347,512
Total confirmed cases
Updated on April 11, 2021 11:15 am
Iran
2,070,141
Total confirmed cases
Updated on April 11, 2021 11:15 am
Germany
2,992,803
Total confirmed cases
Updated on April 11, 2021 11:15 am

Latest Updates

Without Backpackers to Pick Them, Crops Rot by the Ton in Australia

SHEPPARTON, Australia — Peter Hall ran a hand over the Gala apples sitting in a wooden crate on his orchard in southeastern Australia, lamenting...

U.S. Will Have Enough COVID-19 Vaccines for All Adults by End of May, Biden Says

You have reached your limit of 4 free articles. Get unlimited access to TIME.com.99¢ for the first month Subscribe Now You have...

Biden Vows Enough Vaccine ‘for Every Adult American’ by End of May

But Johnson & Johnson and its partners fell behind in their manufacturing. The company was supposed to deliver its first 37 million doses by...

Popular Articles

Without Backpackers to Pick Them, Crops Rot by the Ton in Australia

SHEPPARTON, Australia — Peter Hall ran a hand over the Gala apples sitting in a wooden crate on his orchard in southeastern Australia, lamenting...

U.S. Will Have Enough COVID-19 Vaccines for All Adults by End of May, Biden Says

You have reached your limit of 4 free articles. Get unlimited access to TIME.com.99¢ for the first month Subscribe Now You have...

Biden Vows Enough Vaccine ‘for Every Adult American’ by End of May

But Johnson & Johnson and its partners fell behind in their manufacturing. The company was supposed to deliver its first 37 million doses by...

Twitch gamer Sodapoppin quits fake GTA jobs because they’re too hard

Sometimes being a fake fast-food restaurant manager can be as taxing as being a real one. This is especially true when you also have pretend...

Sarkozy says could take corruption appeal to European human rights court

France's former president Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that he might consider taking his appeal against a corruption conviction to the European Court of...

Where Biden’s Foreign Policy Is Taking the U.S.

One day before the administration announced its decision on Saudi Arabia, Biden gave the first major indication of his presidency that he would be...

Interviews