VOTING TRENDS THAT showed shifts in heavily Hispanic communities in Massachusetts toward President Trump in this month’s election are also apparent in other urban areas, including huge swaths of Boston, results that seem to defy expectations that four years of often racially-charged rhetoric from the president would further depress his already weak standing in communities of color. 

New statewide precinct-level data from the election show that Trump reduced the margin between his 2016 vote and that of his Democratic opponent in many areas of the state’s larger cities. These are all places that Joe Biden won handily, but his margin was smaller than that racked up four years ago by Hillary Clinton, according to the data compiled by Rich Parr, research director at the MassINC Polling Group.

Precinct-level shift in presidential vote from 2016 to 2020. Red areas and negative numbers = a shift toward Trump. Click on map to go to interactive version showing communities and margin changes. (Map by Rich Parr/MassINC Polling Group)

In all of the precincts that make up the heart of Boston’s predominantly black neighborhoods in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, Trump narrowed his loss margin. The pattern was also true in other parts of the city, including precincts in Back Bay, the Fenway, Brighton, and East Boston. The biggest swings toward Trump in Boston appear to be in Dorchester’s Fields Corner neighborhood, home to a large Vietnamese-American population. 

In one precinct there, which stretches from Fields Corner north toward Savin Hill, the presidential vote margin narrowed by nearly 40 percentage points, with Trump going from losing by 57 points to Clinton in 2016 to losing by 18 points to Biden this month. 

Biden won the state by 2-1 margin, performing slightly better than Clinton did four years ago. While he improved on her margins in most of the state, Trump made gains in urban areas — along with a sprinkling of conservative rural communities. 

Trump even narrowed the margin in a couple of places in ultra liberal Jamaica Plain. Before Republicans get too excited about such trends, it’s important to keep in mind the absolute vote  margins, which remained staggeringly one-sided. 

In one Jamaica Plain precinct near the Bromley Heath public housing development, for example, the margin narrowed by 7 points, but the change was from a gap of 94 percentage points four years ago to 86 points this year. Biden crushed Trump in the Ward 10 precinct, with 991 votes to the president’s 71 votes. 

In a Ward 14 precinct in the predominantly black Franklin Field area of Dorchester, Trump narrowed his losing margin by 13 points, but that reflected a change from an eye-popping 97 point edge in 2016 to a 84 point margin this year. The precinct vote earlier this month was 816 for Biden and 71 for Trump. 

Massachusetts presidential vote by city and town, 2020. (Red = Trump; Blue = Biden) Click on map to go to interactive version showing community-level vote totals. (Map by Rich Parr/MassINC Polling Group)

National exit polls showed that Trump made slight gains among black men compared with four years ago. 

In the overall Boston results, Biden won more than 82 percent of the vote to Trump’s 16 percent. 

Parr earlier looked at vote patterns in the state’s Gateway Cities, which revealed striking movement toward Trump in many of the most heavily Hispanic areas of the state, including in Lawrence, Chelsea, and Springfield. The data dovetailed with national exit poll findings showing that Trump made gains among Hispanic voters.