Women of color present potent threat to Trump’s reelection
Taeku Lee, professor of political science and of law | August 13, 2019
Co-authored with EunSook Lee
Conservatives tacitly recognize the political power of women of color when they try to discredit them through ridicule and harassment. Consider President Trump’s attacks on the members of “the squad” who have proven to be remarkably deft and savvy politicians.
Or recall that Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia played referee, scorekeeper and contestant so he could tip the scales in his favor in the 2018 election for governor against Stacey Abrams, whose voter protection efforts had begun years earlier.
Women of color, especially black women, are potent forces in progressive politics, both in office and as organizers who mobilize voters. It seems that conservatives understand this better than liberals.
A new report called “Ahead of the Majority,” by the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund and Groundswell Fund uses recently released census data, polling data from the 2018 midterm elections and interviews with community organizers to illuminate the political power of women of color. Their numbers are growing, and they are turning out to vote; mobilizing their families, friends and communities; and taking to the streets.
Since 2008, women of color have grown by 18 percentage points in the general population and by 25 percentage points among registered voters. This is starting to show up at the ballot box. The 2018 election set new benchmarks for turnout in a midterm election, with a whopping 30 million more people voting than in 2014. For women of color, the increased turnout was even more stark, at 37 percent; for Latinas it was 51 percent; and for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women, 48 percent.
Women of color incited this change because they mobilized their friends and family in significant numbers. Black women led the way, with 84 percent convincing members of their social networks to register and vote, followed by 76 percent of Asian-American and Pacific Islander women, 72 percent of Native American women, 70 percent of Latinas and 66 percent of white women.
Turnout also substantially relied on the efforts of independent political groups. Consider that nearly half of 2018 voters who were contacted to register or go to the polls reported that the contact came from a group unaffiliated with a political party.
Voters of color were more likely to have been contacted this way, and these numbers buttress the experience of community-based organizations on the ground that carried out an uncommon range of nonpartisan civic engagement activities to reach those who had recently become citizens or who were classified as having a “low propensity” to vote.