The 2020 General Election

36 presidential candidates appeared on at least one ballot in 2020. This is five more than the 31 candidates who appeared on at least one ballot in 2016.

35.6% of incumbents did not seek re-election this year. This is lower than the 38.6% in 2018 and 45.2% in 2016 who did not seek re-election. [Ballotpedia 10/19/20]

In 2016, Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by a combined 77,000 votes. In 2020, Joe Biden won those same three states by a combined 214,000 votes (and counting). [Meet the Press- First Read 11/10/20]

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), who won a tight race, said the number one issue that voters brought up to her was the “defund the police” policy, and she said that if Democrats really meant redirecting funds toward other community programs, they should say that.

“And we need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again,” Spanberger said, according to a recording of the private Democratic caucus call. “Because while people think it doesn’t matter, it does matter. And we lost good members because of that.”

She added that if Democrats were classifying this election as a success, “we are going to get fucking torn apart in 2022.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said she felt like moderates were asking her to be quiet. “To be real, it sounds like you are saying stop pushing for what Black folks want,” Tlaib said, according to a New York Times account of the conference call.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), leader of the Progressive Caucus, also took issue with the doom and gloom of some moderates, saying that the election was still a “huge win” for Democrats and that they were able to turn out large numbers of Black, brown, and young people.

Jayapal is correct about Black and brown voters but overstates the growth in the 18-29-year-old population.

As of November 16th (the total number of 2020 voters will likely increase):

  • There has been a 17% increase in the total number of voters between 2016 and 2020.
  • The number of Black and Hispanic voters combined has grown from 23% in 2016 to 26% in 2020.
  • The number of 18-29-year-old voters has grown by 4.7%.
  • The number of Black voters has grown by 26.8%.
  • The number of Hispanic voters has grown by 28.3%.
Year Total voters 18-29-year-olds # of voters Net additional
2016 136.7M 19% 25,973,000  
2020 160M 17% 27,200,000 1,227,000
2016 136.7M 12% 16,404,000  
2020 160M 13% 20,800,000 4,396,000
2016 136.7M 11% 15,037,000  
2020 160M 13% 20,800,000 5,763,000
      Total: 11,386.00

Following the 2020 elections, Republicans will continue to hold a larger number of state trifectas – control of the governorship and both houses of the legislature.

Republicans will have 23 trifectas, a net gain of 2. Democrats will have 15 trifectas and 12 will have divided governments, a net loss of 2. [Ballotpedia 11/17]

According to Nielsen, 56.9 million people tuned in to watch coverage of the 2020 U.S. presidential election during prime time across 21 networks on November 3rd. This is down from 71.4 million viewers across 12 networks in 2016. [Morning Media Newsfeed 11/5/20]

The Exit Polls

There is some controversy about the value of/reliability of exit polls given
the number of people who voted by mail or drop box. Folks who WW trusts say they are valuable. The following 2020 numbers are preliminary results as published by the Washington Post and will likely be changed when the final votes are available.

2020 2016 (CNN exit polls)
Men 48% 47%
Women 52% 53%
18-29 17% 19%
30-44 23% 25%
45-64 38% 40%
65 and older 16% 22%
White 67% 71%
Black 13% 12%
Hispanic 13% 11%
Asian 4% 4%
Sex by race    
White men 35% 34%
White women 32% 37%
Black men 4% 5%
Black women 8% 7%
Hispanic men 5% 5%
Hispanic women 8% 6%
Others 8% 6%
Party self-ID    
Democrats 37% 36%
Republicans 36% 33%
Independent/Others 26% 31%
Liberal 24% 26%
Moderate 38% 39%
Conservatives 38% 35%
Family income    
Under $50,000 35% 36%
$50,000-$100,000 39% 30%
$100,000 or more 26% 34%
Protestant/Other Christian 43% 52%
Catholic 25% 23%
Jewish 2% 3%
Other 8% 8%
Most important issue in your vote for president    
Coronavirus 17% xxx
The economy 35% xxx
Crime and safety 11% xxx
Health-care policy 11% xxx
Racial inequality 20% xxx
When did you decide for whom to vote?    
Decided in the last week 5% 13%
Decided before last week 91% 85%

Bruce Mehlman produces a periodic election related newsletter. His most recent newsletter was published on November 10.

The following information is from several of the newsletter’s charts followed by a link to the whole newsletter.

The 2020 election represented the highest voter turnout of eligible voters since 1900. (WW selected years to include from Mehlman list.)

Year Percentage of eligible voters Total eligible voters (not from newsletter)
2020 66.4% of eligible voters 239,247,182
1960 63.8% of eligible voters 109,672,000
1940 62.4% of eligible voters 84,728,000
1908 65.7% of eligible voters Not available
1900 73.7% of eligible voters Not available
Before Election After Election
U.S. Senate 53R-47D 50R-48D
U.S. House 236D-199R 225D-210R
State Leg. Chambers 59R-39D 61R-37D
Governors 26R-24D 27R-23D

Only four legislative chambers switched parties in 2019/2020. This is the fewest since 1946 when four also switched.

The combined spending of presidential and congressional campaigns was twice as great as any previous election.

Partisan Breakdown of Election Spending

  Democrat Republican
2020 $13.9 Billion 64.60% 35.40%
2016 $6.5 Billion 48.30% 51.70%
2012 $6.3 Billion 47.30% 52.70%
2008 $5.3 Billion 58.80% 41.20%

Here is the link to the entire Mehlman newsletter.