Election 2020: Shifting Demographics in U.S. States

Last week, we examined how the U.S. electorate has changed nationwide from 2010 to 2018. However, these demographic changes at play nationally are even more pronounced at the state level, especially in many of the states that have developed recently into perennial or emerging swing states in state-wide contests. 

Compared with national figures, some states have seen even more significant declines in the share of the electorate for non-Hispanic whites without a college degree. Leading the way here are some key electoral states, such as Nevada (-9.1 percentage points), Florida (-7.6), Utah (-7.4), Minnesota (-7.2), Nebraska (-7.2), and Arizona (-7.1).

Table 1: Top 10 States by Decrease in Share of Electorate, Non-Hispanic White with No College Degree

Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic White, No College Degree Non-Hispanic White, College-Educated Black/African American Asian Hispanic Other
Nevada -7.9% -9.1% 1.1% 1.0% 1.3% 4.5% 1.1%
Rhode Island -6.2% -8.2% 2.1% 0.5% 0.8% 4.1% 0.7%
Massachusetts -5.4% -7.9% 2.5% 1.0% 1.2% 2.5% 0.6%
Oregon -4.1% -7.6% 3.6% 0.1% 0.9% 2.3% 0.7%
Florida -6.0% -7.6% 1.5% 0.7% 0.5% 4.4% 0.5%
Utah -3.4% -7.4% 4.0% 0.3% 0.6% 2.0% 0.5%
Minnesota -3.6% -7.2% 3.6% 1.3% 1.0% 0.9% 0.3%
Nebraska -3.1% -7.2% 4.1% 0.5% 0.3% 1.6% 0.7%
Arizona -5.9% -7.1% 1.2% 0.6% 0.5% 4.3% 0.5%
New Jersey -5.2% -7.1% 1.9% -0.1% 1.4% 3.8% 0.2%
Source: 2010 and 2018 American Community Survey, 1-Year Samples

Some of this shift is due to increasing shares of the electorate that identify as Hispanic or Asian. For example, in California, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Texas, the Hispanic share of the electorate increased by at least 4 percentage points, compared to the national average of 2.7 percentage points. 

Table 2: Top 10 States by Increase in Hispanic Share of Electorate

Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic White, No College Degree Non-Hispanic White, College-Educated Black/African American Asian Hispanic Other
California -6.4% -6.8% 0.4% -0.4% 1.5% 4.9% 0.5%
Nevada -7.9% -9.1% 1.1% 1.0% 1.3% 4.5% 1.1%
Florida -6.0% -7.6% 1.5% 0.7% 0.5% 4.4% 0.5%
Arizona -5.9% -7.1% 1.2% 0.6% 0.5% 4.3% 0.5%
New Mexico -5.1% -5.6% 0.5% 0.2% 0.3% 4.2% 0.4%
Rhode Island -6.2% -8.2% 2.1% 0.5% 0.8% 4.1% 0.7%
Texas -5.6% -6.4% 0.8% 0.3% 0.8% 4.0% 0.4%
New Jersey -5.2% -7.1% 1.9% -0.1% 1.4% 3.8% 0.2%
Illinois -3.9% -6.1% 2.2% -0.2% 0.7% 2.8% 0.5%
Connecticut -4.7% -6.1% 1.4% 0.8% 1.0% 2.8% 0.1%
Source: 2010 and 2018 American Community Survey, 1-Year Samples

Some states saw significant increases in the Asian share of their electorates. Some key states, like Virginia, Nevada, and Minnesota, saw the Asian share of their electorate grow by more than 1 percentage points, compared to the national average of 0.8 percentage points. 

Table 3: Top 10 States by Increase in Asian Share of Electorate

Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic White, No College Degree Non-Hispanic White, College-Educated Black/African American Asian Hispanic Other
California -6.4% -6.8% 0.4% -0.4% 1.5% 4.9% 0.5%
New Jersey -5.2% -7.1% 1.9% -0.1% 1.4% 3.8% 0.2%
New York -4.4% -6.0% 1.6% 0.5% 1.4% 2.2% 0.4%
Maryland -5.1% -6.3% 1.2% 0.9% 1.3% 2.1% 0.8%
Virginia -3.9% -6.1% 2.3% -0.1% 1.3% 1.7% 1.0%
Nevada -7.9% -9.1% 1.1% 1.0% 1.3% 4.5% 1.1%
Washington -4.3% -6.9% 2.6% 0.3% 1.2% 1.9% 0.9%
Massachusetts -5.4% -7.9% 2.5% 1.0% 1.2% 2.5% 0.6%
Minnesota -3.6% -7.2% 3.6% 1.3% 1.0% 0.9% 0.3%
Alaska -4.7% -5.3% 0.5% -0.1% 1.0% 1.9% 1.8%
Source: 2010 and 2018 American Community Survey, 1-Year Samples

Immigrant voters are also expected to have more electoral weight in this election than in the past. While overall, the immigrant share of the electorate grew by 1.5 percentage points, states like New Jersey (+3.4), Florida (+2.7), Massachusetts (+2.5), Maryland (+2.2), Nevada (+2.2), and Minnesota (+2.2) saw much faster rates of growth in New American voters.

Table 4: Top 10 States by Increase in Immigrant Share of Electorate, 2010-2018

Eligible Voters, 2010 Share of Electorate, 2010 Eligible Voters, 2018 Share of Electorate, 2018 Change in Eligible Voters, 2010-2018 Change in Share of Electorate, 2010-2018
New Jersey 892,603 15.1% 1,146,778 18.6% 254,175 3.4%
Florida 1,732,571 13.2% 2,430,044 15.9% 697,473 2.7%
Massachusetts 448,421 9.6% 609,246 12.1% 160,825 2.5%
Maryland 348,455 8.6% 469,252 10.9% 120,797 2.2%
Nevada 208,730 11.8% 289,099 14.0% 80,369 2.2%
Minnesota 144,985 3.8% 239,964 5.8% 94,979 2.1%
Rhode Island 62,496 8.1% 81,478 10.2% 18,982 2.1%
Alaska 22,880 4.5% 35,234 6.6% 12,354 2.0%
District of Columbia 29,638 6.5% 44,053 8.4% 14,415 1.9%
New York 2,152,331 16.3% 2,488,985 18.1% 336,654 1.8%
Source 2010 and 2018 American Community Survey, 1-Year Samples

However, like the nation overall, the biggest changes in the electorate at the state level are seen in the change in the share of the electorate that holds a college degree. While the share of the national electorate with a college degree increased by 4.2 percentage points, in some states, it was significantly higher, including in the District of Columbia (+9.6), Massachusetts (+5.3), Maryland (+5.3), Oregon (+5.3), North Carolina (+5.2), Virginia (+5.1), Colorado (+5.1), Nebraska (+5.0), and Utah (+5.0).

Table 5: Top 10 States by Increase in Share of Electorate with College Degree

Eligible Voters, 2010 Share of Electorate, 2010 Eligible Voters, 2018 Share of Electorate, 2018 Change in Eligible Voters, 2010-2018 Change in Share of Electorate, 2010-2018
District of Columbia 213,255 46.7% 296,370 56.3% 83,115 9.6%
Massachusetts 1,699,856 36.4% 2,096,590 41.7% 396,734 5.3%
Maryland 1,344,206 33.3% 1,664,823 38.5% 320,617 5.3%
Oregon 749,915 27.1% 1,005,021 32.4% 255,106 5.3%
North Carolina 1,673,304 24.5% 2,262,794 29.7% 589,490 5.2%
Virginia 1,800,198 31.4% 2,265,363 36.5% 465,165 5.1%
Colorado 1,230,357 34.7% 1,648,986 39.8% 418,629 5.1%
Nebraska 337,831 25.7% 423,749 30.7% 85,918 5.0%
Vermont 149,925 30.8% 179,393 35.8% 29,468 5.0%
Utah 461,564 26.1% 647,479 31.1% 185,915 5.0%
Source 2010 and 2018 American Community Survey, 1-Year Samples

For more information, please check out our research section with weekly updates. If you have any specific questions about our data, please reach out to us at info@newamericaneconomy.org.

About Us

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…