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Black voter poll sees high level of civic interest

From Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs

Merdies Hayes Editor | 7/26/2019, midnight

Sanders polled particularly well with young Black men as well as those who have negative views of the Los Angeles Police Department. Respondents who identified law enforcement accountability and criminal justice as top policy priorities more often supported Sanders or Warren above Biden or Harris, the findings show.

“While this is a pre-debate poll, I think there are some important trends that are fundamental that will underlie the base of each of the candidates,” Byerly said.

Issues facing Los Angeles

Without prompting, respondents cited homelessness (53 percent), affordable housing (44 percent) and transportation (21 percent) as the most pressing policy issues facing the greater Los Angeles area.

Ridley-Thomas underscored the severity of the homelessness issue in Los Angeles County, especially affecting the Black community. He cited a 2019 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority study that found that the Black community makes up 9 percent of the county’s population, but more than one-third of the homeless population.

Voting and civic engagement

The findings show that Black voters in Los Angeles County are highly engaged with the political process and their communities. The poll found that 95 percent believe it is extremely important or very important for Black people to vote in every election, and 90 percent said voting in elections is very effective in advancing the interests of the Black community.

Discrimination and law enforcement

A majority of respondents (60 percent) said they have experienced discrimination in the greater Los Angeles area in recent years. These instances occurred most often at businesses, retailers or restaurants (38 percent); in relation to jobs or promotions (31 percent); or with strangers in public places (18 percent). Twenty-seven percent cited profiling by law enforcement.

“These situations are daily and countless,” a 29-year-old survey respondent from Carson said.

In the poll, 51 percent of respondents said they disapprove of the Los Angeles Police Department, with 49 percent disapproving of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Among the poll respondents, 21 percent view crime, drugs, guns, violence and gangs as the most important problems facing the region.

“This data can have broad ranging implications in terms of the Black electorate and public opinion,” said Boris Ricks, an associate professor of political science at Cal State Northridge. “This survey speaks to the importance of the African American vote.”