Part of that shift was probably attributable to Miami’s large Cuban American population. In September, we noted that Biden’s support among Hispanics in Florida seemed to be muted by his poor showing with Cuban American voters. The results Tuesday seem to reflect that.
As results from more states came in, though, it became apparent that something else was happening. Trump was doing better in heavily Hispanic counties fairly consistently. Along the border between Texas and Mexico, for example, Trump gained significant ground relative to 2016.
If we compare the (preliminary) margins from 2020 with the 2016 vote in each county and overlay the density of Hispanics in the county’s population, we get a dramatic curve as a result. Counties with very few Hispanics voted more for Trump relative to his opponent than they did in 2016, many of them probably rural. As the density of Hispanics increased, Trump fared worse — until the density of Hispanics in the county population was about 50 percent. At that point, the results started to swing more toward improvement for Trump.
That curve is reflected in the results in Florida. The state’s most densely Hispanic counties saw margins that more heavily benefited Trump than four years ago, led by Miami-Dade.
That curve moves more sharply to the right than the equivalent curve in Arizona, a state where Biden may still win. Nonetheless, even there, the most heavily Hispanic county saw the biggest shift to the president.
The curve is most dramatic in the heavily Hispanic (and county-rich) state of Texas. For a few hours Tuesday night, Biden seemed to have a shot at winning Texas, thanks to improvement over Clinton’s margins in a number of counties with relatively light Hispanic population density. But as that density increased, so did Trump’s improvement.
These are preliminary results and may not always solely reflect the views of Hispanic voters. (Not every Hispanic resident of these states is a citizen eligible to vote, for example.) But there’s a clear link across states between the density of the Hispanic population and improvement for the president.
It may not have been enough to win him a second term in office. But it does offer the Republican Party at least some glimmer of hope that the Trump era has left the door open to a more diverse electorate than some (including myself) had speculated.