In the 2018 gubernatorial race, Stacey Abrams came within 55,000 votes of flipping Georgia blue and making history as America’s first Black female governor. Her near-victory was powered by a 16% increase in Black turnout over 2014.
With this close margin, it was clear that Georgia would be a critical and competitive state in the 2020 presidential and senatorial races. Progressive victory required further mobilization of low-propensity Black voters—in Fulton Co. alone, ~166,000 Black registered voters stayed home in 2018. New Georgia Project commissioned HIT to test effective voter mobilization messages for Black Georgians.
HIT employed both quantitative and qualitative solutions to answer these questions. HIT conducted a statewide poll for NGP of 620 Black registered voters regarding the former. Regarding the latter, HIT conducted five focus groups with rural Black Georgians.
What We Probed in the Statewide Poll
- We asked respondents their initial vote power ratings—an important proxy for voter turnout.
- We exposed respondents to six different messages that stressed the importance of voting in different ways, asking them to rate how convincing they found each message.
- After the messages, we again asked respondents for their final vote power ratings to assess the messages’ potential electoral impact.
What We Probed in the Focus Groups
- We measured initial vote power ratings.
- We tested four messages stressing the importance of voting in different ways, asking participants to rate how convincing they found each message.
- We also asked participants why they found certain messages appealing, allowing us to isolate resonant messaging elements.
- We again asked participants for their final vote power ratings to assess the electoral impact of the messaging.
Once we fielded the survey, we cleaned the data and provided NGP with the toplines and a presentation deck summarizing the poll results. Once we conducted the focus groups, we sifted through the videos/transcripts and provided NGP with a presentation deck outlining the groups’ sentiments.
- In the poll, one of the top-two most convincing messages emphasized the collective power of Black voters to elect Black leaders in the South. And after exposure to the messages, 14% of respondents increased their vote power ratings vis-a-vis the original rating, indicating a potential mobilizing effect.
- In the focus groups, the two most convincing messages of the four highlighted the collective power Black Georgia voters have had on policy outcomes and electoral outcomes.
- New Georgia Project used our collective power messaging in a $50,000 ad buy ahead of the 2020 election.
- Biden outpaced Clinton’s raw vote total in the presidential race by 558,600 votes. Most of these increases came from heavily-Black Atlanta precincts.
- In the Senate runoffs, a higher percentage of Black 2020 voters returned to the polls than white 2020 voters did.
HIT Strategies has been a strong and valuable research partner to New Georgia Project and New Georgia Project Action Fund. Together, we have proven the value of long-term, consistent research informed by real-world questions based on our work knocking doors, calling, texting, and engaging with the voters whose voices we want to amplify.
From the ideation phase to reporting results, HIT always listens and thinks strategically about the possibilities and opportunities for conducting and using research, rather than recycling past research processes. The results have been relevant and compelling, and New Georgia Project and New Georgia Project Action Fund has and will continue to integrate these research insights into our strategies for effective voter outreach and mobilization.
Working with HIT has enabled NGP to become one of the preeminent organizations in Georgia conducting and utilizing research specifically focused on Black voters. Without a doubt, HIT’s commitment, in particular, to conducting research on and with Black voters has contributed to our collective aim of increasing the civic participation of historically marginalized communities.
- Ranada Robinson, Research Director, New Georgia Project and New Georgia Project Action Fund