vision 2020

Trump Bashed New York City, But He Did Better There in 2020

Self-loathing New Yorkers whoop it up for Trump in October. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

It was never much of a secret that after Donald Trump moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he openly grew to despise New York City, where he was born and where his family built its fortune. Last year he changed his legal residence from New York to Florida. He’s battled with city and state officials over a wide array of legal and political disputes. Once the COVID-19 pandemic appeared, with especially lethal effects in New York, their president almost seemed to take pleasure in it, as he blasted the governor and mayor for their policies. And as the election year concluded, he returned again and again to what he claimed were catastrophic conditions in the Big Apple, saying the city had “gone to hell.”

So when New York’s 2020 voting results were finally certified, it was a bit of a shock to discover that Trump actually improved on his 2016 performance in New York City. As NY1 observed, Trump’s percentage of the city vote rose from 17.9 percent to 22.6 percent. He did better, in fact, in four of the five boroughs, leading to an insta-interpretation that the relative strength he showed among nonwhite voters nationally was evident in New York as well:

Some of Trump’s newfound strength reflects well-known group demographics recently favoring him. A close-up map of the results clearly shows Hasidic neighborhoods going all MAGA.

But without detailed, reliable exit polls, the often-discussed phenomenon of Trump doing better in big cities cannot be completely explained. Is it possible central cities are trending (slightly, to be sure) red in part because minority voters are migrating to suburbs? That is almost certainly the case in, say, Atlanta, where close-in suburbs are undergoing powerful demographic and political change (e.g., Cobb and Gwinnett counties), which not long ago were GOP strongholds, not only went for Biden this year but elected Black Democratic county leaders.

In any event, the Trump trend in New York City was offset by Biden gains in other parts of the state, notably the suburbs. Biden’s statewide vote percentage of 60.8 percent exceeded that of New Yorker Hillary Clinton with 59 percent, and his margin over Trump was the same as HRC’s at 23 percent. Amid all his abuse of New York this year, Trump also predicted he would carry the Empire State in November. Knowing him, he may soon tout his gains there to predict victory in New York in 2024.

Trump Bashed New York City, But He Did Better There in 2020