Throughout Trump’s term in office, he sprinkled out little divisive nuggets like this, which he intended to use to fire up support among white voters. He did this because he seemed to assume that white voters think like he does on racial issues. But many absolutely don’t.
And instead, the opposite happened. Comparing 2020 with 2016, exit polls tell us that Trump fell 18 points among white voters in Colorado. 16 points among white voters in Virginia. 15 points among white voters in Georgia. 10 points among white voters in Michigan.
One thing that most analysts don’t talk about is how much Trump slipped among white voters between 2020 and 2016. He actually improved slightly with black voters and moderately with Latinos. But he fell significantly in a number of key states with white voters.
Trump still won among white voters in most states. But dropping 15 points among white voters in a state like Georgia, 10 points in Michigan or 8 points in Arizona, given how badly he did with nonwhites, was a game changer.
Trump kept using all those racist dog whistles because he thought it would help him shore up “the base” (mostly consisting of white voters). And he did it because he assumed they would respond favorably to his racism and nativism.
If you think about it, the amazing thing about Trump is that he was not only racist against people of color. He was racist against white people as well. Because he presumed that they were racist.

In reality, white voters were instrumental in showing Trump the door.
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