What Happened in 2020


What Happened in 2020 National Report

Yair Ghitza | May 10, 2021

The 2020 election was historic and uniquely challenging. Not only was it conducted in the middle of a global pandemic, but it was one of the most intensely partisan elections in recent history. Despite these immense challenges, America’s democratic process survived. Election administrators, poll workers and voters themselves rallied to deliver the highest voter turnout since women’s suffrage and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, with Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris narrowly defeating Donald Trump and Mike Pence in an election that was closer than many analysts expected. 

More from Our Partners and Other Analysts

AAPI Civic Engagement Fund

According to EunSook Lee, Director of the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund: "AAPI turnout jumped by 39%, in part due to the incredible work of AAPI community groups from Georgia to Michigan to Pennsylvania, and all points in between. The rise in anti-AAPI violence also contributed to increased motivation among AAPI voters who used the ballot box to fight back against racist rhetoric from Trump and his supporters. We know from talking to AAPI groups who are building power in our communities that this momentum will only strengthen as we head into the midterm election." The organization’s research includes a 2020 American Election Eve Poll and a report on Activating the APPI Voting Bloc.


CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, is a non-partisan, independent research organization focused on youth civic engagement in the United States. They estimate that half of young people voted in 2020, an 11 point increase from 2016. Their 2020 Election Center includes more analysis of the youth vote by region and state.


Equis Research, which deeply studies the Latino electorate, found that turnout and persuasion effects both played a role in the 2020 results. Their research emphasizes the diverse nature of the Latino electorate and is based on more than 40,000 interviews with Latino voters.


A Third Way analysis of House-level data found that Democratic House candidates endorsed by the NewDem Action Fund had higher relative gains from 2016 compared to other Democratic candidates in their respective districts. 


AAPI Data, a publisher of demographic data and policy research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, previously wrote an analysis of turnout among Asian-Americans. 

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Grecia Lima, Political Director for Community Change Action, a national organization that builds the power of low-income people, especially people of color, said the report “shows clearly how a multi-racial coalition of Black, brown and immigrant voters is radically transforming our nation’s electorate. At Community Change Action, we are committed to engaging these new voters and low-propensity voters who are coming together for each other to usher in leaders that will help create a more progressive vision for our families where we can all thrive.” The organization’s 2020 Election Report summaries its work reaching more than 13.9 million voters.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and GSSA issued a detailed memo in response to this analysis—citing additional research from HIT Strategies. They found that the increase in Black turnout was “due in large part to the heightened interest in and concerns about the direction of the country and its personal impact on Black Americans, which translated into eagerness to vote.” The organizations worked with more than 200,000 volunteers to contact an estimated 11 million Black voters in the 2020 cycle.