New Research Points to the Importance of Engaging Low Propensity Women of Color in the 2020 Elections

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Supermajority, a women’s equality community of activists and organizers, recently released a report on qualitative research that details the range of issues facing women of color, from living during the Coronavirus pandemic, systemic racism, economic concerns about jobs, universal healthcare, childcare, and voting. Participants are acutely aware that the country is dealing with a leadership void, and they are eager for new leadership that will bring unity and take immediate action—with a real plan—to meet the challenges we face.

With Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick expected this week, the research also highlights the potential for the vice-presidential selection to generate enthusiasm to participate in this year’s election and support Biden.

The research—designed, conducted, and analyzed by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR) and Vision Strategy and Insights (VSI)— included extensive qualitative research with nearly 100 women of color (black, Latina, Asian American Pacific Islander and Native American women) who have been inconsistent voters or eligible to register and vote for the first time. Participants were drawn from key electoral states: Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Women of color respondents know very little about Biden, but once they learn about his personal background and his record as a public servant their enthusiasm increases. Biden’s biography and family story are compelling, particularly hearing about the tragedy of his late wife and daughter. It humanizes him and creates a shared understanding that Biden has experienced hardship and loss. Biden’s record as VP and in the Senate also convey important signals about his character and effectiveness.
  • The potential of having a woman of color on the ticket boosts excitement among younger participants. Respondents expressed that having a VP candidate of color who complements Biden’s strengths while compensating for his perceived shortcomings, would make them more motivated to vote for Biden (for some, it was the only information that swayed their thinking on Biden).
  • The trifecta of coronavirus, economic collapse, and racial injustice has introduced an unprecedented level of stress, anxiety, and challenges.
    • Coronavirus/Health: Participants believe that we should be moving toward universal healthcare that gives insurance companies less power; they cite other countries as models for change.
    • Economic Collapse: Though many respondents are struggling financially, the risk of getting this illness outweighs the desire to reopen. Respondents are looking for immediate relief from financial hardships that include additional stimulus relief checks, extended unemployment benefits, and assistance for those who may not have lost their job but are still struggling financially. They want policies that help the lower and middle classes, not big corporations.
    • Police Brutality: Respondents want to see real changes made—more than “street signs and photo ops.” They want police reforms and changes in laws to hold bad cops and those who commit hate crimes accountable. Respondents support spending less on the police and shifting that money to schools.
  • Low propensity women of color have little faith in the democratic process.Obstacles that they have faced in the past include changing their voter registration after moving, getting a ballot while away at school, not having transportation to the polls, being unable to wait in long lines, or not being able to get time away from work or home to go vote. Voting in the age of COVID exacerbates this even further as some states are changing their rules, others are further restricting in-person voting, and some – like voters in Texas and Native American women living on reservations – have no option other than in-person voting. A few Native American respondents note that it is difficult to get information and absentee ballots by mail on a reservation where there are no street addresses.
  • Respondents view Trump as the existential threat to this country that drives them to vote this year. Trump has changed their views about voting, and many respondents who did not vote regularly in previous elections say they are highly motivated to vote this year to get Trump out of office. Most of these low-propensity voters say they are determined this year to do whatever necessary to vote in November because the stakes are so high.
  • Respondents overwhelmingly express a desire for a unifier, who will piece this broken country back together and finally take on racial injustice.At a minimum, respondents want a new president who has a tangible plan of action to deal with the pandemic and the immediate and long-term impact of the economic fallout, as well as a plan to increase access to quality, affordable health care with a focus on costs. They want the government to be transparent, communicate clearly, and be accountable.

To read the full report, click here.

Read more about Supermajority’s efforts to mobilize and harness the power of women here: