It is obscene that the presidential race is too close to call at the time this column is published: Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. EST.
After all that Donald Trump has done, all the misery he has caused, all the racism he has aroused, all the immigrant families he has destroyed, all the people who have left this life because of his mismanagement of a pandemic, still roughly half of the country voted to extend this horror show.
Let me be specific and explicit here: White people — both men and women — were the only group in which a majority voted for Trump, according to exit polls. To be exact, nearly 3 out of every 5 white voters in America are Trump voters.
It is so unsettling to consider that many of our fellow countrymen and women are either racists or accommodate racists or acquiesce to racists.
But, that’s only part of what was shocking to me about the exit polls.
First, the stipulations: As The New York Times makes clear, these data “are preliminary estimates from exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool” and will be “updated as more data becomes available, and they will eventually be adjusted to match the actual vote count.”
Second, some people — including me — wondered whether the exit polls would include voters who voted early or by mail. This particular exit poll was conducted by interviewing “voters outside of polling places or early voting sites, or by phone.”
Finally, exit polls are just that, polls. They can differ slightly from the validated voter data, as they did in 2016.
All that said, I am still stunned.
— Racial Minorities
A larger percentage of every racial minority voted for Trump this year than in 2016. Among Blacks and Hispanics, this percentage grew among both men and women, although men were more likely to vote for Trump than women.
Among Hispanics, the movements by sex were marginal and have held remarkably steady over the last four presidential elections.
The fascinating story and movement are in the Black vote. Black people vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. Black women vote more reliably Democratic than Black men — only 3% or 4% of Black women voted for the Republican candidate in 2008, 2012 and 2016. However, Trump doubled that number this year, winning 8% of Black women’s votes.
Black men on the other hand have been inching away from the Democrats in recent elections and continued that drift in this election. In 2008, 5% of Black men voted for John McCain; in 2012, 11% voted for Mitt Romney; in 2016, 13% voted for Trump; and, this year 18% voted for Trump.
These men were specifically targeted by the Trump campaign, and that targeting may well have worked. Democrats are going to have to pour some energy into specifics listening to and understanding these Black men. They are still the least likely group of men to vote Republican, but this trend away from Democrats is undeniable at this point.
— White Women
Not only did a majority of white men vote for Trump, so did a majority of white women. In 2016, exit polls also showed that a majority of white women had done so, but later an analysis of validated voters by the Pew Research Center found that a plurality of white women voted for Trump, not a majority.
In any case, white women vote for Trump at higher rates than all other women, despite the fact that Trump has spent his first term, indeed his whole life, denigrating women.
— The LGBT Community
This one pushed me back on my heels: the percentage of LGBT people voting for Trump doubled from 2016, moving from 14% to 28%. In Georgia the number was 33%.
This for a president who has attacked trans people in every way imaginable. As the Human Rights Campaign president, Alphonso David, pointed out in June, “The Trump-Pence administration is the most virulently anti-LGBTQ administration in decades.”
This strong move toward Trump may be driven by men.
In September, gay social network Hornet published the result of a survey of 10,000 of its users that found that 45% of the gay men on it planned to vote for Trump.
As the company wrote on its blog:
“The idea that gay men — a demographic that typically skews left — would vote for Donald Trump at a higher percentage than U.S. citizens overall would no doubt be very surprising were it to happen. And another surprise: 10 percent of the American gay men who took Hornet’s survey say they ‘do not support [Donald Trump] at all’ but will vote for him nonetheless.”
All of this to me points to the power of the white patriarchy and the coattail it has of those who depend on it or aspire to it. It reaches across gender and sexual orientation and even race. Trump’s brash, privileged chest trumping and alpha-male dismissiveness and in-your-face rudeness are aspirational to some men and appealing to some women. Some people who have historically been oppressed will stand with the oppressors and will aspire to power by proximity.
Charles M. Blow is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.