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California Voter Participation Survey

Cross-Tabulation Findings

Latinos

Incentives

The message “Voting is an important part of being a good citizen” resonates strongly among Latino infrequent and nonvoters. 96 percent of Latino infrequent voters and 76 percent of Latino nonvoters agreed with the statement “Voting is an important part of being a good citizen.” This was slightly higher than the rate of agreement among all infrequent and nonvoters surveyed (93 percent and 72 percent respectively).

Latino infrequent and nonvoters also responded positively in their agreement with the statement “I believe that my vote makes a difference in the outcome of the election.” 90 percent of Latino infrequent voters and 73 percent of Latino nonvoters agreed with this statement. This was higher than the rate of agreement among all infrequent and nonvoters surveyed (85 percent and 63 percent respectively).

Latino infrequent and nonvoters were more likely than infrequent and nonvoters generally to say that the most important reason to vote is to “make your voice heard/express your opinion.” More than half of the Latino infrequent voters surveyed—51 percent—cited this as the most important reason to vote, compared to 43 percent of all infrequent voters. Among Latino nonvoters, 37 percent cited this as the most important reason to vote, compared to 32 percent of all nonvoters surveyed.

95 percent of Latino infrequent voters agreed that “voting is an important way to voice your opinions on issues that affect your family and your community,” and 91 percent agreed that “voting lets you choose who represents you in government.” This was slightly higher than the rate of agreement among all infrequent voters surveyed (93 percent and 89 percent respectively).

Overall, Latino infrequent and nonvoter attitudes about voting were found to be equal to or slightly more positive than those attitudes held by all infrequent and nonvoters surveyed.

Barriers

Latino nonvoters and infrequent voters are less likely to live in a pro-voting culture than infrequent and nonvoters generally. They are less likely to say their family votes in most or all elections (77 percent of Latino infrequent voters compared to 82 percent of all infrequent voters), and are less likely to have grown up in a family that often discussed political issues and candidates (37 percent of Latino nonvoters, compared to 46 percent of all nonvoters surveyed). They are also less likely to say their friends vote (55 percent of Latino infrequent voters compared to 64 percent of all infrequent voters), and more likely to agree that their friends hardly ever talk about politics (58 percent of Latino infrequent voters, compared to 50 percent of all infrequent voters surveyed).

Latinos nonvoters are less likely to agree that there is “no one on the ballot I want to vote for” (34 percent of Latino nonvoters compared to 40 percent of all nonvoters surveyed), but Latino infrequent voters are more likely to agree that “I make more of a statement by not voting than I would if I voted” (26 percent of Latino infrequent voters compared to 16 percent of all infrequent voters surveyed).

Latino infrequent voters were more likely to cite difficulties using voting equipment and to express distrust that their vote will be counted accurately than infrequent voters generally. 18 percent of Latino infrequent voters agreed that voting equipment is difficult to use, compared to 9 percent of all infrequent voters surveyed. 31 percent of Latino infrequent voters agreed with the statement “I don’t believe that my vote will actually be counted accurately” compared to 22 percent of all infrequent voters. However, when this question was asked as a positive statement the results were different: 89 percent of Latino infrequent voters agreed with the statement “I believe that when I vote, my vote will be counted accurately,” which is about the same rate of agreement among all infrequent voters surveyed.

The survey results indicate that there are significant differences in attitude between first-generation Latinos and second-generation Latinos. First-generation Latinos were far more likely to agree that they don’t feel “candidates really speak to me,” were more likely to say “there are just too many things on the ballot,” and more likely to cite problems getting voting information, particularly in their language of preference, than second-generation Latinos. 59 percent of first-generation Latino infrequent voters said they don’t feel the candidates speak to them, compared to 30 percent of second-generation Latino infrequent voters. 51 percent of first-generation Latino infrequent voters agreed there are “just too many things on the ballot” compared to 34 percent of second-generation Latino infrequent voters. 62 percent of first-generation Latino nonvoters said it’s too hard to sift through voting information and make good voting decisions, compared to 39 percent of second-generation Latino nonvoters.

Latino infrequent and nonvoters were less likely to agree “my vote doesn’t make a difference” than infrequent and nonvoters generally. While 39 percent of all nonvoters surveyed agreed that their vote doesn’t make a difference, only 28 percent of Latino nonvoters agreed with this sentiment. Among infrequent voters, 20 percent agreed their vote doesn’t make a difference, compared to 15 percent of Latino infrequent voters. On this question there was virtually no difference in response between first- and second-generation Latinos.

Mobility appears to be less of a barrier for Latino nonvoters than it is for nonvoters generally. Latinos were less likely than nonvoters generally to say that they had been registered to vote before but not at their current address (33 percent compared to 44 percent), or that they move around so frequently it is difficult to stay registered (18 percent compared to 24 percent).

Overall, the findings indicate that although Latino infrequent and nonvoters are less likely to live in a pro-voting culture, they are more positive about the voting process than infrequent and nonvoters generally.

Sources of Information and Influence

When it comes to election information sources, several were found to be more influential for Latino infrequent voters than for infrequent voters overall, in particular: talk radio; media in a language other than English; TV and radio ads from a political campaign; alternative media; endorsements from public figures, and direct outreach strategies. For example, among all infrequent voters, 58 percent said phone calls from a political campaign are not at all influential, compared to 46 percent of Latino infrequent voters who said this. 52 percent of all infrequent voters said a volunteer at their door from a political campaign was not at all influential, compared to 40 percent of Latino infrequent voters who said this.


The findings also indicate that sources of information for Latino infrequent voters differ depending on whether English is both their first and primary language. Conversations with family rated as very influential among 28 percent of the Latino infrequent voters surveyed who primarily speak English; among those surveyed for whom English isn’t their primary language, conversations with family rated as very influential among 39 percent.

TV ads from political campaigns were very influential for 13 percent of English-speaking Latinos, a rate similar to the findings for all infrequent voters. By contrast, TV ads rated as very influential among 34 percent of those Latinos surveyed who were not primarily English speakers. Media in language other than English was very influential for 8 percent of all infrequent voters surveyed; 15 percent of English-speaking Latinos, and 32 percent for non-English speaking Latinos. English-language newspapers were found to be just as influential among Latino infrequent voters for whom English is not both their first and primary language as for all infrequent voters.

African Americans

Incentives

African American nonvoters were more likely to say voting is important than nonvoters generally do. 58 percent of African American nonvoters surveyed said voting is extremely or very important, compared to 47 percent of all nonvoters who said this. Only 14 percent of African American nonvoters said voting is not so important, or not at all important, compared to 26 percent of all nonvoters who said this.

The survey indicates that African American infrequent and nonvoters have more negative attitudes about California’s direction than those surveyed overall. When asked whether California is going in the right direction or is off on the wrong track, only 25 percent of African American infrequent voters said “right direction,” compared to 50 percent among all infrequent voters. African American nonvoters were also found to be more opinionated on this question than others surveyed; only 8 percent of African American nonvoters said they didn’t know, compared to 23 percent of nonvoters overall.

African American nonvoters expressed slightly more positive attitudes than nonvoters overall when asked about their interest in politics and voting. 67 percent of African American nonvoters surveyed said they are interested in politics, compared to 62 percent of nonvoters overall. 54 percent of African American nonvoters said they like to vote, compared to 48 percent of nonvoters overall.

African American infrequent voters were more likely to say that they grew up in a family that discussed political issues and candidates than infrequent voters overall (66 percent compared to 59 percent). However, African American nonvoters were less likely to say their family votes in most or all elections than nonvoters generally (54 percent compared to 62 percent).

When asked about the most important reason to vote, African Americans were slightly more responsive to the idea that “people struggled for the right to vote” than those surveyed overall; however, as a reason to vote, this one did not rate very high among African Americans (7 percent of African American infrequent and nonvoters, compared to 3 and 4 percent of infrequent and nonvoters generally). Far more compelling reasons are to “make your voice heard/express your opinion” (38 percent of African American infrequent and nonvoters agreed this is the most important reason to vote) and to support a particular candidate. African American infrequent and nonvoters, similar to all infrequent and nonvoters surveyed, cited these as the top two reasons for voting.

African American nonvoters were less likely than nonvoters overall to say the issues are too confusing (34 percent compared to 48 percent) or that it’s too hard to sift through election information in order to make good decisions (42 percent compared to 52 percent).

When it comes to registering to vote, African American nonvoters were more likely to say they knew where to find voter registration forms than nonvoters overall (74 percent compared to 68 percent) but less likely to say they had filled out a voter registration form (21 percent compared to 30 percent).

African American nonvoters cited education/schools as a motivating issue to vote more frequently than nonvoters overall (23 percent compared to 17 percent). However, African American nonvoters were slightly more likely to say that “nothing would motivate me to vote” than nonvoters overall (21 percent compared to 17 percent). Among African American infrequent voters, slightly fewer were likely to say “nothing would motivate me to vote” than infrequent voters overall (4 percent compared to 8 percent).

Barriers

African Americans were more likely to express doubt about whether their votes will be counted accurately than nonvoters and infrequent voters overall. 79 percent of African American infrequent voters said they believed their votes would be counted accurately, compared to 89 percent of infrequent voters overall. Among nonvoters, the difference in the level of confidence was even more pronounced; only 50 percent of African American nonvoters said they thought their vote would be counted accurately, compared to 70 percent of all nonvoters surveyed.

When asked whether they agreed with the statement in the negative (“I don’t believe my vote will actually be counted accurately”) African Americans again expressed a higher level of doubt than infrequent and nonvoters overall. 36 percent of African American infrequent voters agreed with the negative statement, compared to 22 percent of infrequent voters overall. Among African American nonvoters, nearly half—45 percent—agreed with the statement, compared to 38 percent of nonvoters overall.

African Americans were also more likely to say they didn’t feel the candidates really speak to them than infrequent and nonvoters overall (33 percent of infrequent African American voters, compared to 24 percent of infrequent voters overall), and were also much more likely to say they don’t trust any of the election information available (54 percent of African American nonvoters, compared to 36 percent of nonvoters overall).

The survey found that African American infrequent voters were as likely to say their friends vote and that their family “hardly ever talks about politics” as infrequent voters overall. But African American nonvoters were less likely to say their friends vote (41 percent compared to 50 percent overall) and more likely to say that their families hardly ever talk about politics (66 percent compared to 60 percent overall).

Overall, the findings indicate that for African Americans, it is not a lack of information, but a lack of trust in the information available that is a barrier for voter participation. 44 percent of African American infrequent voters said they lacked trust in election information, compared to 29 percent of all infrequent voters; among nonvoters, 53 percent of African Americans cited a lack of trust compared to 39 percent of all nonvoters.

African American infrequent and nonvoters were less likely to say they were too busy with work or family to vote than all infrequent and nonvoters surveyed. 32 percent of African American infrequent voters and 39 percent of African American nonvoters said they were too busy to vote, compared to 43 percent of all infrequent voters and 46 of all nonvoters surveyed. Among those African Americans who do say they’re too busy to vote, long job hours were cited as the biggest factor, with 53 percent of African American infrequent voters saying this is the reason they are too busy to vote.

Sources of Information and Influence

The findings indicate that family and friends play a significant role in motivating African Americans to vote. Among African American infrequent voters, 69 percent said conversations with family are very or moderately influential, compared to 65 percent of all infrequent voters. And 71 percent said conversations with friends are influential, compared to 57 percent of all infrequent voters.

Local newspapers were also found to be more influential among African American infrequent voters than for infrequent voters overall. 36 percent of African American infrequent voters said the local newspaper was “very influential” as an election information source, compared to 25 percent of infrequent voters overall. African Americans were also more likely to say a phone call from a political campaign would influence their voting decisions. 22 percent of African American infrequent voters said a campaign phone call would be very influential, compared to 7 percent of infrequent voters overall. And only 36 percent of African American infrequent voters said a campaign phone call would be “not at all influential” compared to 58 percent of infrequent voters overall.

Asian Pacific Islanders

Incentives

The survey findings indicate that Asian Pacific Islanders (API) tend to be somewhat more positive but also less opinionated about California’s direction than infrequent and nonvoters generally. 56 percent of API infrequent voters said California is moving in the right direction, compared to 50 percent of all infrequent voters. However, 27 percent of API infrequent voters said they didn’t know whether California is moving in the right direction or is off on the wrong track, compared to 17 percent of all infrequent voters.

When asked about the importance of voting, API nonvoters were more positive than nonvoters generally. 58 percent of API nonvoters said voting is either extremely or very important, compared to 47 percent of all nonvoters who gave voting the same level of importance.

The survey findings indicate that API infrequent and nonvoters like voting and believe voting is an important part of being a good citizen. 58 percent of API nonvoters said they liked to vote, compared to 48 percent of all nonvoters. 96 percent of API infrequent voters agreed that voting is an important part of being a good citizen, compared to 93 percent of all infrequent voters; among API nonvoters, 83 percent agreed with this statement, compared to 72 percent of all nonvoters. This higher rate of agreement about the importance of citizenship and voting was also found among Latinos surveyed, indicating that potential voters who are immigrants or whose families immigrated are more responsive to citizenship as a motivating factor in voting.

API nonvoters were also found to have more positive attitudes about voting compared to nonvoters generally. 82 percent of API nonvoters agreed that voting lets you choose who represents you in government, compared to 72 percent of nonvoters generally.

The economy rates as the top issue that would motivate API infrequent voters to vote. 31 percent of API infrequent voters cited the economy as an issue that motivates them to vote, compared to 17 percent of infrequent voters generally. Among API nonvoters, education/schools rated as the top motivating issue, with 24 percent saying education/schools would motivate them to vote, compared to 17 percent of all nonvoters who said this. The economy rated as the second-highest motivating issue among API nonvoters, with 20 percent saying it would motivate them to vote, compared to 11 percent of all nonvoters who said this.

Barriers

API infrequent voters were more likely to say “there are no candidates I believe in” compared to all infrequent voters. 31 percent of API infrequent voters said this was the most important reason they didn’t vote, compared to 20 percent of all infrequent voters.

While API infrequent and nonvoters have a positive attitude about voting, they have less interest in politics and are less immersed in a pro-voting culture than other respondents. This is particularly true of API nonvoters. Only 39 percent of API nonvoters said their family votes in most or all elections, compared to 62 percent of nonvoters generally. Only 30 percent of API nonvoters say their friends vote in most or all elections, compared to 50 percent of nonvoters generally. Among API infrequent voters, 48 percent said their friends vote, compared to 64 percent of all infrequent voters. 73 percent of API infrequent voters say their families vote, compared to 82 percent of all infrequent voters.

The findings indicate that API infrequent and nonvoters voters face greater information barriers than infrequent and nonvoters generally. 56 percent of API infrequent voters agreed that it’s too hard to sift through voting information and make good decisions on how to vote, compared to 45 percent of all infrequent voters. 51 percent of API infrequent voters said the issues are too confusing, compared to 42 percent of all infrequent voters. 46 percent said there are too many things on the ballot, compared to 37 percent of infrequent voters generally. 25 percent of API infrequent voters said they didn’t have access to election information in their preferred language, compared to 10 percent of all infrequent voters. Among API nonvoters, 27 percent cited this reason for not voting, compared to 12 percent of all nonvoters.

API nonvoters are less likely to say they’ve been registered to vote before than nonvoters generally. 25 percent of API nonvoters say they’ve been registered, but not at their current address, compared to 44 percent of all nonvoters. Registering through the DMV appears to be a greater barrier for API nonvoters than for nonvoters generally; 31 percent of API nonvoters said they thought they were registered through the DMV, compared to 18 percent of all nonvoters who said this.
Sources of Information and Influence

57 percent of API infrequent voters said talk radio is very or moderately influential when it comes to making election decisions, compared to 48 percent of all infrequent voters. Local radio news was even more influential; 68 percent of API infrequent voters said local radio news was very or moderately influential, compared to 51 percent of all infrequent voters.

The findings also indicate that the Internet is an influential information source for API infrequent voters, 49 percent of whom said it was very or moderately influential, compared to 40 percent of all infrequent voters who said this. The Internet also rated highest among information sources for news and events of the day among API infrequent voters, while newspapers rated lowest, which is the reverse of the findings overall. 28 percent of API infrequent voters said they get most of their news information from the Internet, compared to 14 percent of all infrequent voters. Only 13 percent of API infrequent voters cited newspapers as their primary information source, compared to 21 percent of all infrequent voters.

Other Cross-Tabulation Findings

Language: Spanish-speaking infrequent voters are less likely to live in a pro-voting culture and more likely to encounter problems with the voting process than non-Spanish speakers surveyed. Two-thirds say their friends hardly ever talk about politics, compared to half of all infrequent voters who say this. 19 percent say they do not feel that the US is their home, compared to 6 percent of all infrequent voters. 27 percent say it’s too hard to figure out where to vote, compared to 11 percent of all infrequent voters. 22 percent say pollworkers are unhelpful or unfriendly, compared to 5 percent of all infrequent voters. 40 percent say they do not have access to voting materials in their own language, compared to 9 percent of all infrequent voters.

Education: Infrequent voters surveyed with a high school education or less rely heavily on campaign information and mass media for making their voting decisions. They are not as involved in a pro-voting culture as more educated infrequent voters. 61 percent of less-educated infrequent voters say their friends hardly ever talk about politics, compared to 46 percent of more-educated infrequent voters. Among nonvoters, the less-educated are less likely to have been registered before (36 percent compared to 50 percent of higher-educated nonvoters). They are less likely to say voting itself takes too much time (13 percent compared to 28 percent of more-educated nonvoters).

Age: Younger nonvoters, defined as those surveyed who are 25 years old and younger, have a less cynical opinion on voting than older nonvoters. Younger nonvoters are more likely to say voting is an important way to express your opinion (88 percent compared to 78 percent of older nonvoters). Younger nonvoters have less difficulty sorting through information and issues, and are less likely to say the issues are too confusing (38 percent of younger nonvoters compared to 53 percent of older nonvoters). Younger infrequent voters are less likely to say their friends vote in most or all elections (50 percent compared to 68 percent of older infrequent voters) and are more likely to say they are too busy to vote (53 percent compared to 40 percent of older infrequent voters). Younger infrequent voters find TV ads more influential (47 percent compared to 35 percent among older infrequent voters). They are also more influenced by the Internet (54 percent of younger infrequent voters, compared to 37 percent of older infrequent voters).

Home ownership: Nonvoters surveyed who are renters were more likely to say they are too busy with work or family to vote (51 percent of renters compared to 41 percent of homeowners). Nonvoters who are renters are also less likely to say their friends vote (46 percent compared to 61 percent of homeowners). Nonvoting renters are almost twice as likely to say they move around so frequently that it is difficult to stay registered (30 percent compared to 16 percent of homeowners). Infrequent voters who are renters are less likely to say it’s easy to vote by absentee ballot (36 percent compared to 45 percent of homeowners).

Marital status: Single nonvoters are less likely to have friends who vote in most or all elections (45 percent compared to 57 percent of married nonvoters). Single nonvoters are less likely to say they’ve been registered to vote before (39 percent compared to 53 percent of married nonvoters). Single infrequent voters are more likely to cite job hours as a reason they are too busy to vote (49 percent compared to 36 percent of married infrequent voters).

Income: Low-income infrequent and nonvoters, defined as those who earn $25,000 or less annually, were found to have less involvement in a pro-voting culture than other infrequent and nonvoters generally. Low-income nonvoters also were found to be somewhat more distrustful of the voting process. 41 percent do not trust any of the election information available, compared to 32 percent of higher-income nonvoters. 68 percent of low-income infrequent voters say getting the information necessary to make voting decisions is easy, compared to 82 percent of higher-income infrequent voters. 55 percent of low-income infrequent voters say their friends vote in most or all elections, compared to 67 percent of all infrequent voters.

Gender: Female nonvoters were more likely than men to say the issues are too confusing (52 percent compared to 43 percent of male nonvoters). Among infrequent voters, men are more likely to say they work too many hours (49 percent compared to 37 percent of women). Like female nonvoters, female infrequent voters are more likely to say the issues are too confusing than male infrequent voters (47 percent of women, compared to 35 percent of men). 55 percent of female infrequent voters say voting information is hard to understand, compared to 42 percent of male infrequent voters. Male infrequent voters were slightly more distrustful of election information; 31 percent of the male infrequent voters surveyed said voting information is untrustworthy, compared to 27 percent of female infrequent voters.

 

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This page was first published on April 7, 2005 | Last updated on January 27, 2006
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