A series of polls in Georgia, North Carolina and California are highlighting the priority issues that are driving Black voters to the polls ahead of the midterm elections. Top of mind for these constituents—a desire for a better quality of life.

“The reality is that Black voters are going to the polls with our priorities in mind—priorities that lift up our communities that the GOP doesn’t have policies for,” says Alicia Garza, Principal of Black to the Future Action Fund, the organization responsible for the poll. “Elected officials and candidates in these states must prioritize economic recovery, protecting voter rights and access, and combating white supremacist violence to be responsive to their Black constituents.”

Black Voter Bulletin: Priorities and Satisfaction in North Carolina, Georgia and California highlighted the fact that inflation and cost of living remain top of mind. But crime and gun violence are also at the forefront of the voters, aged 35-55, in these states.

The poll, which was conducted in partnership with HIT Strategies, also shows that the last two years of the Biden-Harris administration have felt beneficial for Black voters surveyed. Respondents said they believe progress has been made on the issues that are most important to them including improved conditions in the area of education, student loan debt, and jobs/ the economy. And while they’re excited about the progress, they are also confident that there will be more.

Respondents hope to see improvements in the cost of living, crime and gun violence, the cost of housing, white supremacist and nationalist violence, discrimination and racism, criminal justice reform/police brutality and abortion access, as they perceive these issues to be worsening. And the poll suggests that this could (or should) be accomplished in the hands of Democratic leaders. When Black voters were asked about their satisfaction and attitudes toward elected officials in each state, Democratic officials came out on top. 

Black voters in Georgia disapprove of Governor Brian Kemp (R), with 60 percent having unfavorable or very unfavorable sentiments. He received only 15 percent favorability. In comparison, Black voters in California and North Carolina had very favorable sentiments toward Governors Gavin Newsom (D), with 61 percent favorability, and Roy Cooper (D), with 64 percent favorability. And while Kemp’s Democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams, is still behind in national polls, she garnered the highest favorability rating of any candidate asked about, receiving an 80 percent favorability rating.

From a more expansive standpoint, 58 percent of Black voters felt favorably toward Democrats in Washington, and 63 percent felt favorably toward Democrats in their state. In contrast, 65 percent of Black voters felt unfavorably toward Republicans in Washington, and 57 percent of Black voters felt unfavorably toward Republicans in their state.

“We chose these states to invest in for the next five years because each reflects tremendous opportunities to build the power of Black voters in the state, and increase the number of Black community members who participate in elections,” Garza says. “Our goal is to shift the balance of power in the midterms and beyond in favor of the policy priorities of Black communities.”