The 2020 General Election was historic in many ways, including voter turnout. According to the California Secretary of State, California saw the highest eligible turnout rate (the percentage of adult citizens who voted) in 2020 for a general election since 1952. But a new study from the Center for Inclusive Democracy at USC has found that despite also seeing higher turnout in 2020, Latinos, Asian Americans and youth did not make headway in closing the gap between their turnout rates and the turnout of California overall.
“We were excited to see record voter turnout across the country this past election, as it represented a huge opportunity to bring in more voters who are typically underrepresented in the electorate,” said Mindy Romero, director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy. “Yet in California, these underrepresented groups did not gain ground in terms of actual voter participation rates versus the rest of the voting population, which was both surprising and disappointing.”
Latino eligible turnout was 53.0% in 2020 compared with 46.4% in 2016. Asian-American eligible turnout was 47.7% in 2020, while it was 38.5% in 2016.
The difference between the eligible voter turnout rates for Latinos and the total population increased to 14.4 percentage points in 2020 compared to a 10.9 percentage point gap in 2016.
The difference between the eligible voter turnout rates for Asian Americans and the total population increased to 19.7 percentage points in 2020 compared to an 18.8 percentage point gap in 2016.
Despite the turnout gap in the 2020 election, the Latino and Asian-American share of California voters casting ballots was the highest seen in any California statewide election.
For Latinos, their share of the state’s voters in the 2020 general election increased from 22.8% to 24.3%, a positive uptick but a number still far below their share of the state’s eligible voter population of 30.9%, or a representation gap of over 6 percentage points. This was also the case for Asian-American voters, whose share of the vote went from 8.3% to 10.4%, an increase of just over 2 percentage points, but again far below their share of the state’s eligible voter population of 14.6%.