WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Intersections of Our Lives released new, national polling data demonstrating the intersectionality of the experiences of Black, Latina/x, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women voters. This new research explores the experiences of women of color voters as they went to the polls in 2020, the impact the pandemic and racism has had on their lives, as well as their policy priorities.
The poll found that 7-in-10 women of color feel positively about the direction of the country, up more than 50 points from 15 percent positive just after the 2018 election. Moreover, the poll found that two-thirds of women of color voters were engaged in political activities leading up to the 2020 elections.
Importantly, women of color are demanding equity and change through an electorate that reflects them with more women and candidates of color running for office and a more intersectional approach to the issues that matter most to them, including access to reproductive health, ending racial discrimination, ensuring access to clean water, and improving healthcare. Women of color have experienced unique challenges throughout the last year and a half, compounding the nation’s racial awakening with the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, more than 7-in-10 women of color have been impacted by COVID-19 with Latina/x women having been hit especially hard.
“Women of color are an increasingly powerful voting bloc, but efforts to enact restrictions on voting hit us hard. Women of color voters made clear this last election that they are paying attention and won’t be ignored. Black women, in particular, mobilized their communities and turned out votes that delivered victories up and down the ballot,” said In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell.
“AAPI women are a powerful elector force and it is clear that we will hold our elected officials accountable to address the issues and barriers that our community and our fellow women of color – whether it’s health care, economic issues, discrimination or reproductive rights,” said National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow.
“Latinas/xs and all women of color are constantly navigating a multitude of issues – we lead intersectional lives. This motivates us to demand that our elected officials enact policies that reflect our lived experiences and ensure justice and equity for everyone in our communities,” said National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice Executive Director Lupe M. Rodríguez.
The key findings from the nationwide poll include:
Women of Color Were Highly Motivated to Vote in the 2020 Election
- 1-in-10 women of color voters were first-time voters and 9-in-10 of those new voters are committed to voting in the next election.
- Nearly 8-in-10 women of color voters report voting early, either in person or by mail. 52 percent of women of color voted by mail, ballot drop box or absentee, 27 percent voted early and in person and only 21 percent voted on election day.
- More than 8-in-10 women of color voters are confident their vote was counted accurately – up 9-points overall since 2018 and 19-points for Black women.
- 2-in-5 women of color voters faced challenges while voting – up 8-points since 2018. 19 percent said they were asked to show an ID at the polls, 11 percent saw disinformation on social media and 11 percent faced long voting lines.
- Two-thirds of women of color voters were engaged in political activities leading up to the 2020 elections. 44 percent watched a political debate (up 9 percent from 2018), 30 percent signed a petition or online petition (up 5 percent from 2018), 25 percent shared information about issues they care about (up 4 percent), 23 percent donated to an organization and 11 percent contacted a government official.
Women of Color Perspectives on the 2020 Candidates
- Almost 9-in-10 women of color voters agreed that the stakes were too high in this election not to vote.
- A majority of Democratic women of color voters said their vote mainly represented the need for a change – a 24-point increase from 2018.
- 8-in-10 women of color voters report casting their vote for President Biden, with the majority saying they voted for Biden, rather than against Trump.
- Three quarters of women of color voters were satisfied with their choice of candidates – this was even higher for Black women. Notably, there was a 10 point increase among Black women who said they were very satisfied with the choice of candidates in 2020 from 2018.
- 90 percent of women of color would like to see more women candidates running for office and 85 percent would like to see more candidates of color running for office.
- Women of color voters would like to see a more intersectional approach from candidates and elected officials. 81 percent of women of color want their elected officials to understand how their experience and needs differ from white women.
Impact of the Pandemic on Women of Color
- More than 7-in-10 women of color have been impacted by COVID-19.
- Almost 8-in-10 Latinas/xs have been personally impacted by the pandemic – 1-in-4 had a family member die. They were also more likely to personally become sick with COVID-19 or have a member of their household get sick.
- 1-in-3 Black women and AAPI women noted their mental health had suffered during the pandemic.
- Women of color want to see the government take steps to help people recover from the pandemic. 59 percent say they want to see financial assistance for families, 58 percent want the government to ensure everyone in the U.S. is vaccinated and 56 percent want to see financial support for small businesses.
Women of Color Experience with Racism
- At least 8-in-10 women of color voters say they are impacted by racism – this cuts across all demographic groups, but Black women are most impacted. Notably, 2-in-5 AAPI women say they have been personally impacted by instances of racism and violence as a result of COVID-19.
- 79 percent of women of color want their elected officials to understand how white supremacy impacts their lives.
What Women of Color Want the Administration and Congress to Focus On
- While the priorities of women of color are not monolithic, common ground exists. The top issues women of color want to see members of Congress make progress on over the next two years include:
- Ending discrimination because of race, ethnicity, immigration, or culture (65 percent extremely important)
- Ensuring people with pre-existing conditions can still access health insurance (63 percent extremely important)
- Ensuring access to clean water (63 percent extremely important)
- Ensuring that women have authority to make decisions about their bodies and lives (60 percent extremely important)
- 86 percent of women of color voters want their politicians to respect a woman’s autonomy over her reproductive health.
- 8-in-10 women of color voters see societal and personal benefits to women having control over reproductive decisions.
- 57 percent of women of color voters say they will be watching their elected officials in Congress more closely compared to previous elections.
- Three quarters of women of color voters want members of Congress to work together across the aisle and get results.
Women of color make up more than 20 percent of the population and it’s estimated that by 2050, women of color will make up the majority of women in the U.S. This growing population is an increasingly strong voice in the electorate, with post-election data demonstrating women of color voting at higher rates in the 2020 election than in past general elections. According to data collected by TargetSmart on the change in voting patterns of women of color from 2016 and 2020, nationally, women of color turnout increased by more than 10 percent in 2020 from 2016. The increase was especially prominent in Hispanic and AAPI women voters whose total turnout grew by 24 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
The poll, which was conducted by The Harris Poll, included interviews of 1,617 adult women (18+) who self-identify as Black or African American; of Hispanic, Latina, or Spanish-speaking background; or Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) or of any ethnicity/national origin recognized in the Asian race category by the U.S. Census Bureau. As part of this effort, an oversample was conducted of South Asian American women. In addition to these characteristics, all women are registered voters who reported voting in the 2020 general elections. Interviews were conducted online and via telephone using live, professional interviewers from April 7 to May 16, 2021. The survey was made available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, or Vietnamese.
Further insights on the poll are available below:
- Complete Poll Report
- Fact Sheet Summarizing the Findings
- Fact Sheet on Policy Priorities for Women of Color
- Fact Sheet on Perspectives of AAPI Women Voters
- Fact Sheet on Perspectives of Black Women Voters
- Fact Sheet on Perspectives of Latina/x Voters
ABOUT INTERSECTIONS OF OUR LIVES Intersections of Our Lives is a collaboration of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda (In Our Own Voice), the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice (Latina Institute), three women-of-color led national Reproductive Justice organizations with both federal and statewide presence. For more information about Intersections of Our Lives visit: IntersectionsofOurLives.org.