AAPI Voter Polling and Focus Groups

  • Research
  • 5 min read

Below are some top line findings from polling and focus groups conducted in August.

Polling Readout

Registered likely AAPI voters are not being contacted by campaigns nearly enough, and are more likely than the average likely voter across these states to be planning to vote by mail (VBM) or be friendly to the notion.

Organizations and campaigns should make a concerted push to inform AAPI voters about VBM and early in person voting (where available) and should use persuasion messages around the value of their vote and leveraging that value while remaining safe from COVID.

  • 33% of registered, likely, AAPI voters polled plan for VBM and 76% say safety from COVID is the most compelling reason to do so. 
  • Even though 90% of AAPI voters say their vote is very important, more than half do not feel well educated about different options for voting this year.
  • Half of AAPI respondents in focus groups reported not being contacted yet by campaigns or groups. (This represents a huge missed opportunity in key suburban counties around Atlanta and in Pennsylvania.)

Focus Group Readout

Project Manager: Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
Moderator: Tricia Juhn, Encanto Strategy 
Conducted through Schlesinger Group

Broad Observations via Amanda Luz Henning Santiago

The act of voting is associated with duty and difficulty. Respondents made transactional associations with the act of voting (e.g. “tedious,” “patriotism,” “complicated,” “duty,” “stressful,” “peaceful process.”) They did not view voting as part of a larger fabric of building a country or future. However, nearly every participant was dedicated to voting in the upcoming general election.

Most participants were skeptical of the U.S. voting system and felt they could not trust it completely due to poorly run elections in the past and current events. Regardless, nearly every participant felt their vote is valuable even if they don’t have full confidence in the system.

While participants were open to other voting methods, they felt most confident their vote would be counted if they voted in person.

“I think my trust is slowly diminishing. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m just getting more educated on our voting system in general, or maybe I’m just actually as I get older, to be more attuned to the real politics of it. But I think there are some archaic things that we still kind of do, in terms of just the process for which we vote.”

Rafael, 36

Thoughts on GOTV

  • 10 out of 14 participants said that they had been contacted by a GOTV organization. 
  • Some said that they received calls once a week during the last primary, while others said they only received a few calls, texts or flyers in the mail. 
  • All AAPI participants said that they preferred to be contacted in English; most felt that they would be suspicious of any political materials that came in another language. 
  • Participants agreed that Spanish is the main language to add to voting materials.

“I have not been contacted through that [GOTV] campaign, but the language choice would definitely be English. Like Pauline mentioned, if it’s something like my native language, I’d definitely think it was a scam and I would hang up.”

Imran, 39
Gwinnett County, GA

Stimuli Feedback via Tricia Juhn

Focus groups were moderated by Tricia Juhn of Encanto Strategy. Participants were from Fulton, Dekalb and Gwinnett counties in Georgia.

During the focus groups, participants were presented with stimuli. In this case, it was an earlier iteration of AAAF’s Vote from Home video (Georgia Primary).

Participant Reactions to the Video

  • Video needs a clear call to action: “Does it even say to vote?” Make message explicit: is it to encourage people to vote per se; and/or to increase awareness/comfort re: voting early in person, or early by mail, or other?
  • Clarify the voting instructions. “Add a deadline?” Multiple viewers misunderstood the ad to mean they could vote on-line instantly on Election Day.
  • Make messaging easily share-able. Voters noted they would be willing to share via multiple channels, which vary depending on age and demographic (Facebook Messenger vs. Whatsapp).
  • “A little cold – warm it up a little?” Humanize the messaging.
  • “Maybe an impact statement? Something catchy, nice?” Be explicit re: Impact of one vote: Voting= duty + difficulty: “tedious,” “patriotism,” “complicated,” “duty,” “ stressful,” “peaceful process,” i.e., isolated transaction vs. larger fabric of civic duty. Differs from African-American + Latino groups, who talk about “power,” “rights,” “protection;” reflects different paths to assimilation.
  • Clarify sponsorship/source of ad to enhance legitimacy.

What affects likelihood/commitment to vote?

  • “Agenda,” “candidates themselves,” “desire for change” drives desire to vote for both historically activist and apolitical voters: 
    • “I was raised a Republican, but I think if I had known more about the issues in the last election, I think I would have voted differently.” – Young mother; herself adopted.
  • Inhibitors to voting worth addressing explicitly: Fear of hacking/fraud; personal security at polls; accommodation for logistical barriers like childcare.
    • “…more people more on edge” because of COVID – “…long lines in heat”
    • “What am I going to do with little kids standing in line for 5 hours? Or if I can’t find someone to watch the kids while I vote?”

What’s one thing to know about messaging strategy?

  • Frequency feeds awareness: “Why is there no education on voting? It’s so infrequent…” – lack (demise of) civic education, likened to lack of financial education: Focus on value and reward of voting as civic duty, right, privilege.
  • Intellectual understanding that “my vote counts,” but some skepticism around “Does it really, given the electoral system?” – likely to be more acute given pandemic’s mental health issues.

Below is the updated version of the video after receiving feedback from the focus group.

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