May 16, 2024
States & Stats Newsletter 5/16: Just In – Results from Our Battleground Survey on Ballot Roll-Off

Welcome to our third States & Stats Newsletter, highlighting the work of our award-winning political research team.

Our research team works on projects like state legislative data and district targeting, understanding what motivates voters and volunteers down-ballot, and collecting, analyzing, and reporting on state-level data and trends. This research powers all of Sister District’s political strategy and programs.

In this month’s States & Stats:

  • Data Deep Dive – Sharing the key findings from our roll-off survey, conducted in partnership with Data for Progress. These fascinating results reveal deep insights into which voters do or don’t vote down-ballot.
  • Special Announcements – Join us + Teen Vogue for an exciting virtual event 6/10.

I hope this Newsletter is interesting and informative. And I welcome your feedback – let me know if there are particular topics or issues you’d like us to cover.

📊 Deep Dive

In our first issue of States & Stats, we covered the basics of down-ballot roll-off: what it is, and why it matters for building progressive state power. Last month, we focused on the massive impact that roll-off has had in state legislative elections and the difference that just a few votes can make. Now we’ll dig into the results from our national battleground voter survey, which helps us understand who rolls off, and why.

We partnered with Data for Progress to field a survey to 5,101 likely voters in critical battleground states – AZ, MI, NC, PA, and WI. Below are a few fascinating findings.

Demographics: Compared to down-ballot voters, roll-off voters are more likely to be:

  • Women – 12% vs. 7% of men.
  • Identify with a race/ethnicity other than white – 14% of Black voters and 12% of Latino voters vs. 8% of white voters.
  • Younger than 45 – 17% of younger voters vs. 6% of older voters.
  • Without a college degree – 12% of voters without college vs. 5% of voters with college degrees.

Knowledge & attitudes:

  • Knowledge about what state legislators do is generally low (only half of the whole sample knew that legislators’ main job is to write and pass the state’s laws).
  • But for roll-off voters, this knowledge is much lower: Only 31% of them answered correctly, compared to 56% of down-ballot voters.

Roll-off voters are also:

  • Much less confident that they know enough to decide between candidates (79% vs. 41% of down-ballot voters).
  • More likely to say that concern about potentially voting for the “wrong” candidate has prevented them from voting (23% vs. 9%).
  • More likely to believe that their vote in a state legislative race doesn’t matter (56% vs. 25%).

Among roll-off voters, there are large differences between liberals and conservatives:

  • Fewer liberal roll-off voters know what state legislators do (31% vs. 39%).
  • Far fewer liberal roll-off voters agree that state governments, not the federal government, should have the most authority over important decisions (44% vs. 66%).
  • More liberal roll-off voters than conservative roll-off voters agree that it is their civic duty to vote ONLY in races where they are familiar with the candidates (68% vs. 57%).

A few takeaways + themes:

  • Voters most likely to roll-off are women, voters of color, and young voters.
  • Voters, especially roll-off voters, have massive knowledge gaps about what state legislatures do, including their primary role in abortion policy.
  • Roll-off voters feel low confidence in voting and low agency in the value of their vote.
  • Ideology is key:
    • Voters often don’t know what state legislators do, but conservatives vote anyway.
    • Voters often don’t know about their state legislative candidates, but conservatives vote anyway.
    • Knowledge about state legislators is lower for liberal roll-off voters than conservative.
    • Conservatives feel an urgency about state legislative elections.
    • Beliefs and Values – State vs Federal Power:
      • Conservatives believe state level is where most power shouldbe placed.
      • Liberals believe federal level is where most power should be placed.

The next phase of this work will be to develop and test messages that will empower and excite liberal voters to vote for state legislative candidates, in order to deploy in coalition this fall. Get in touch if you’d like to partner!

📝 Data Digest

Check out the following down-ballot roll-off resources:

Sister District Down-Ballot Roll-off Resource Hub

Toplines memo from our battleground survey with Data for Progress

Recording from our recent research briefing

-Recent Politico coverage about the work

-Writer Jessica Craven highlighted the work in the her Chop Wood, Carry Water newsletter

📢 Special Announcements

Upcoming events:

June 10, 2024 at 8 pm ET – Historic Firsts: Pride Edition

    • Join Sister District + Teen Vogue for a Pride Month virtual event lifting up trailblazing pioneers from the LGBTQIA+ community who have made history in state legislatures.
    • Featuring:
      • Keynote address from Erin Reed, journalist and transgender rights activist
      • Panelists: MN Sen Clare Oumou Verbeten, and Sister District alums AZ Rep Lorena Austin and WA Sen Emily Randall
      • Moderators: Gaby Goldstein, Sister District Co-Founder, and Lex McMenamin, Teen Vogue News and Politics Editor

See you next month!

In solidarity,

P.S. Your generosity fuels our work. Donate now to empower us to build progressive change.

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