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Black voter poll sees high level of civic interest

From Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs

Merdies Hayes Editor | 7/26/2019, midnight

The Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs (PBI) at Cal State Los Angeles has released a new poll of Black voters in Los Angeles County, a community that is expected to be a major factor in the California presidential primaries on “Super Tuesday,” March 3, 2020.

The poll of more than 2,300 Black registered voters in Los Angeles County is one of the largest surveys of Black voters in a geographic area. The findings reveal that Black voters are highly engaged in civic affairs, voting and charitable giving, and are decidedly concerned with homelessness, affordable housing and transportation policy issues.

The poll also details Black voters’ disapproval of President Donald Trump and how they are lining up around the Democratic presidential candidates in the run up to the all-important California primary in March 2020.

“We have a tremendous opportunity leading up to the 2020 election to engage people around key issues that they care about, to pull in those people who may not be a part of the process or may not be civically engaged, to ensure that we get robust turnout going forward,” said Shakari Byerly, partner and lead researcher for Los Angeles-based public opinion research firm EVITARUS, which conducted the poll.

The findings were announced during a special event at the California African American Museum July 17, less than two weeks before the second round of Democratic presidential primary debates on July 30-31. Guests included elected officials, scholars and community organizers.

“What you are doing is important,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “It contributes to the knowledge base, it causes us to have a greater appreciation, it makes it clear that every single voter and the role that he or she plays, ethnically and more broadly demographically, is of consequence.”

The newly released poll is part of a groundbreaking multiyear, PBI project to survey four major racial and ethnic populations in Los Angeles County: the Asian-American, Latino, African-American, and Jewish communities.

“This is a particularly timely and important survey,” said Raphael J. Sonenshein, PBI executive director. “I think it is going to make quite a bit of difference in conversations around town.”

Trump and 2020 candidates

The poll found that an overwhelming majority of Black voters in Los Angeles County hold negative attitudes toward President Trump, with 86 percent saying they disapprove of the president and 87 percent saying they would not vote to re-elect him.

On the Democratic side, the findings show that Black voters are lining up around former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris, with 34 percent saying they favor Biden and 21 percent supporting Harris. There were 17 percent who said they support Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and 11 percent supported Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with no other candidate reaching 10 percent.

Byerly pointed out that the findings show that Biden does well among stronger partisan Democrats, frequent churchgoers, and older voters, with support from 46 percent of baby-boomer respondents, but only 20 percent of millennials. Harris performed well with women and highly educated voters.