BISC Election Research Demonstrates the Power of Ballot Measures for Black, Latinx, and Asian American Voters
The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center’s groundbreaking research from the 2018 election shows that more than two-thirds of Black, Latinx, and Asian Pacific Islander voters see ballot measures as an effective tool for social change.
BISC, in partnership with Brilliant Corners Strategies and Lake Research Partners, conducted extensive qualitative and quantitative research before, during, and after the 2018 election.* The findings show ballot measures as a beacon of democracy—particularly for young, black voters.
Voters of color view ballot measures as a powerful tool for social change
- More than two-thirds of voters of color agree that ballot initiatives “are an opportunity to pass policies that help people like me” and “a good way for me to make my voice heard in the political process. Similar numbers agree that “when politicians aren’t getting things done, ballot initiatives provide a way for voters to pass good policies.
- 63% of voters surveyed agreed that voting on ballot measures or constitutional amendments is a more effective way to affect change in a state than just voting for an individual candidate.
- Nearly two-thirds, 63%, of voters say that they are more likely to vote for candidates who supported proposed economic and democracy reform measures in the survey; this rises to 69% of young black voters.
- Majorities of Black, Latinx, and API voters said they would be more enthusiastic about voting if economic and democracy reforms were on the ballot.
Issues that deeply motivate Black, Latinx, and API Voters
- Concerns about health care costs and incomes not keeping pace with cost of living, top the respondents’ agenda for all surveyed voters.
- Voters want to prioritize the interests of working people, reform the criminal justice system, and ensure fairer treatment for Black people.
- The larger economic concerns included a desire to see equal opportunity for all—along gender, racial, and ethnic lines—as well as making housing more affordable, and lowering taxes for people like them. Other participants raised concerns about healthcare, education, job training, and governmental budgeting.
- The most popular measures tested include increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour and expanding Medicaid coverage. These initiatives attract the support of more than 7-in-10 voters of color, including majorities who support them strongly.
- Measures that focus on criminal justice reform, cracking down on payday lenders, and restoring the voting rights of ex-offenders are also supported by majorities of these voters. Majorities of voters of color across these states say they would be more enthusiastic about voting knowing that these proposed measures were on their ballot. This is particularly true for Black, Latinx men and older Black and Latinx voters.
Strengthening our democracy and encouraging voter participation is vital
- Voters were strongly supportive of most of the democracy reform measures provided to them and viewed efforts to reform government, elections, and the criminal justice system as particularly essential to making our democracy stronger and more representative.
- Messages detailing the importance of voting and working together across racial, ethnic, and other divides to effect progressive change performed well.
For more findings or to request the underlying research, please contact:
Caroline Sanchez Avakian at [email protected]
*The online pre-election survey was administered to 401 likely 2018 General Election voters of color (51% Latinx; 43% black; and 6% Asian Pacific Islander) in the Roadmap to 2020 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. The survey was conducted October 25th through November 5th, 2018, and additionally, in-person focus groups were conducted in FL and CO in September of 2018. These groups were also invited to participate in online journaling through October and up to the 2018 election.
The post-election survey consisted of 1200 voters who are Black, Latinx, and Asian Pacific Islander. The survey was conducted online, starting on November 17-25, 2018. Qualitative boards were also conducted post-election over three days in November. These findings are from proprietary research conducted by Brilliant Corners Research and Strategies and Lake Research Strategies on behalf of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.