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In Focus Groups, Both Older Black Voters and Young Voters Were Alarmed by Voter Suppression Laws, Bans on Teaching Racism, Insurrectionists Running for Office, and Striking Roe V. Wade

Focus Groups Reveal GOP’s Racist Measures Elicit Strong Reactions in Democratic Base Voters 

Washington, D.C. | Feb 8 – In recent focus groups with older Black voters and young voters, both groups expressed alarm at voter suppression laws, bans on teaching about racism, Capitol insurrectionists running for office, and rolling back Roe. V. Wade. This was a key finding in two recent HIT Strategies focus groups in which HIT sought to determine base voters’ awareness and reactions to GOP rhetoric. One focus group was with older Black base voters (strong Democrats ages 35+, voted in at least 4 of the following elections: 2020, 2018, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2008), and the other was with younger base voters (strong Democrats of different races, ages 20 to 34, voted in both 2020 and 2018).

We presented participants with a list of GOP policies and asked them to choose the two they found most disagreeable. Below are three of the top five listed. 

  1. Passing laws attacking our freedom to vote, including restricting early voting and voting by mail, purging voters from the voter rolls, and banning giving food and drink to voters waiting inline 
  1. Banning the teaching of an accurate history of our country, including the impact of racism and the civil rights movement 
  1. Attempting to change state laws to give themselves the power to sabotage or overturn future election results

Both young base and Black base voters expressed strong opposition to these policies—there was a mobilizing effect even among those who were largely checked out of the news cycle. The young base voters said they are usually opposed to posting such lists on social media because of blowback; however, they’d be willing to share this information on social media because of their intense opposition to these policies if cited with links.

“The focus groups represent some evidence that Democratic voters can be mobilized by both the racialized attacks coming from the GOP,” said Terrance Woodbury, a founding partner at HIT Strategies. “But for us to mobilize the base, Democrats have to be willing to engage issues around race and racism directly.”

“The Supreme Court will likely sanction criminalizing abortion this year, and many Democratic voters aren’t aware of the imminent threat to our reproductive freedoms,” said Roshni Nedungadi, a founding partner at HIT Strategies. “These focus groups show that Democratic voters can be mobilized to protect Roe. V. Wade and support Democrats who will uphold their long held right to an abortion.”

Quotations From Focus Groups 

“It’s very alarming. I haven’t heard any of that just because, like I said, I don’t really seek out the news myself. So it’s extremely alarming to know that his followers are trying, or attempting, to squeeze their way into the office because I can’t imagine having more of those types of people. They are the faces we look up to, and the faces that people in other countries are having America be represented by.” – Young White Woman, Base, upon hearing that insurrectionists were running for office 

“How they suppress a lot of things that Black people have done over the years. Like I didn’t know when I was in school about Black Wall Street. You know what I mean? I didn’t know about some of these other Black people that were down for us, and that gave their lives for us to live better. They suppressed that they don’t talk about the people who stood strong for us like Marcus Garvey. All we hear about is Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. They don’t talk about H. Rap. They don’t talk about the stuff that’s important to our history. You see what I’m saying? And that’s what’s important to me.” – Black Man, Base, regarding GOP bans on teaching racism 

“The passing laws attacking our freedom. Again, they are trying to suppress our vote. That’s why they are making laws now for us not to. Again, we’re turning red states into blue, and they are realizing that now, so they are going to try everything in their power to make sure that don’t happen again in the next election. So they always try to do everything to suppress our vote. That’s why they don’t want to give out anything. When we have long lines, they don’t want to help out, because they are trying to suppress us from voting.” – Black Man, Base  

“I think I’m concerned about going backwards in areas that we’ve made progress in, honestly. Looking back, Roe v Wade, that’s even up for discussion? We did that long ago. Why are we going back to it kind of thing.” – Young White Woman, Base

About HIT Strategies  
HIT Strategies is a public opinion research company specializing in researching Millennials, People of Color, Women, LGBTQ+ and other underserved communities. We help our clients translate their target audience’s values, attitudes, and behaviors into real-time insights and messaging. For more information, please visit Follow us on Twitter at @HITStrat  


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