Women played a critical role in President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris winning the White House, but one group in particular stands out.
Approximately nine in 10 Black women who voted cast ballots for Democrats, according to a report from the Center for American Women and Politics, a part of Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics. Black women’s support for Democrats ― in both the presidential and down-ballot races ― was greater than among any other group of women voters.
Also, consistent with data from past elections, Black women were the most likely voters to turn out for the election, CAWP found.
“Black women have been the most reliable group of voters, at least if you look at voters by race and gender, over time,” said Kelly Dittmar, CAWP’s director of research. “This is not new to this cycle, in fact, the rates of Black women support have been this high or even higher in previous presidential elections.”
Latinx women also powered the vote for Biden and Harris: Between 64% and 73% cast their ballots for the ticket. Both Latinx and Black women’s support for Democrats was greater than the backing the party got from their respective male counterparts.
CAWP’s report examined data from four sources: Edison Research exit polls, the firm Latino Decisions, Associated Press’s VoteCast and polling from the Cooperative Election Study. All four sources came to roughly the same conclusion on the majority of data points.
The majority of white women who voted apparently supported President Donald Trump, although those numbers are less clear because exit polling is ongoing. From 46% to 55% of white women voted for Trump, according to the four data sources CAWP used. White women gained special attention as a voter group after the majority of them voted for Trump in 2016, helping him defeat Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential candidate.
In this year’s election, white women’s votes varied depending on their education level. The report found that the majority of college-educated white women voted for Biden (between 54%-65%), while the majority of non-college-educated white women voted for Trump (between 54%-63%). Unsurprisingly, Evangelical women skewed heavily toward the Trump/Mike Pence ticket, with around seven in 10 voting for it.
While many were shocked by the turnout of white women for Trump the second time around, Dittmer was not among them. Much of the academic research done after the 2016 presidential election showed that certain groups of white women are more likely to vote by their race instead of their gender, she said.
“That’s not new to U.S. history,” Dittmer said. “But I think the Donald Trump case brought it to light in a more explicit way for many people because there was an assumption that if somebody was blatantly misogynistic that women would reject him. But we know that’s not the calculation, and women have different definitions and criteria for what they deem to be misogynistic.”
The high turnout of Black women voters for Democrats is especially notable because it helped elect Harris, the first Black and first South Asian American woman to serve in the White House. Biden and Harris emphasized outreach to Black communities throughout their campaign, especially in critical swing states. Support from Black voters of both genders proved especially pivotal to the ticket carrying the battleground states of Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania ― all of which Trump won in 2016.
During their victory speeches, both Biden and Harris thanked Black voters for turning out for them. In one poignant moment, Harris thanked her late mother, who was South Asian, and all of the other women “who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
Biden won 306 electoral votes, to 232 for Trump. In the nationwide popular vote, with the count continuing, Biden leads Trump by close to 6 million votes, out of more than 153 million cast.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Harris is of East Asian descent. She is of South Asian descent.