Women of color helped drive historically high voter turnout in the 2018 midterm elections and are poised to play a pivotal role in mobilizing voters in next year's general election, a report from the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund and Groundswell Fund finds.
Based on a survey of ninety-four hundred voters conducted on the eve of the 2018 elections, the report, Ahead of the Majority: Foregrounding Women of Color (32 pages, PDF), found that thirty million more people voted in 2018 compared with 2014, a 33 percent increase, with a 37 percent increase among women of color (51 percent for Latinas, 48 percent for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women, and 28 percent for African-American women). The survey also found that 84 percent of African-American women encouraged friends and family to vote, as did 76 percent of AAPI women, 72 percent of Native American women, 70 percent of Latinas, and 66 percent of white women. Between 2008 and 2016, the population of women of color in the United States grew 18 percent, while the number of women of color registered to vote jumped 25 percent.
The high turnout rates in the 2018 midterms followed a slight drop in general election turnout, from 59 percent in 2008 to 56 percent in 2016, among women of color. "The real story going into the next election, then, is whether 2018 is a harbinger of equally dramatic increases in voter mobilization in 2020," the report's authors note. "The 2018 midterm elections were...a moment of extraordinary levels of mobilization, with communities mobilizing on their own and together....As we look to 2020, Ahead of the Majority tells us that, as they grow in numbers, it would be strategic to situate women of color at the nexus and as the core constituency to motivate, influence, and persuade."
"With the 2018 midterms, the nation witnessed a sea change in American politics led by women of color," said AAPI Civic Engagement Fund director EunSook Lee. "This is a story of black women on the frontlines of democratic demands for progressive change and social justice, turning out to the polls, made more impactful by the participation of Latinas and Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. The data points to the potential for substantive policy change when strategies and resources are centered on women of color."
"2018 marked a milestone for women of color reaching their potential as a powerful electorate," said Groundswell Fund executive director Vanessa Daniel. "We urge funding institutions and donors to reassess their funding and investment decisions to recognize the growing value of women of color in setting the nation's policy agenda. We encourage philanthropy to course correct on their historical underinvestment by supporting more women-of-color-led, and -serving, organizations."