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Axios-Ipsos poll: Voters of color worry about militias, arrests

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±2.6% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Fears that armed militia, police or COVID-19 await them at the polls are disproportionately shaping how Americans of color think about in-person voting, according to an Ipsos poll for Axios.

Why it matters: Participation by voters of color could decide whether President Trump or Joe Biden wins, and whether Democrats take control of both chambers of Congress.


  • 82% of white Americans, 74% of Black Americans, 66% of Asian Americans and 53% of Hispanic Americans say they're either certain to vote or have already voted, with a little more than two weeks left in the election.

The big picture: This survey of U.S. adults shows the lasting effects of voter suppression and disenfranchisement — and why people of color crave expansions of mail-in ballots, same-day registration and restoration of voting rights.

  • 32% of Black respondents and 30% of Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans — but only one in five white respondents — are concerned about physical violence or armed militias at their voting locations.
  • One third of Black respondents, 29% of Asian Americans and 24% of Hispanic Americans worry the government could use in-person voting to serve warrants or arrest people — compared with just 14% of white respondents.
  • 29% of Black Americans said they're "very concerned" about voter suppression in their home states — roughly twice the rate of the other racial and ethnic groups.

By the numbers: Roughly four in 10 non-white respondents, but just three in 10 white respondents, are concerned about long wait times at the polls.

  • Black Americans are the most concerned (57%) about whether their own votes will be counted.
  • There's also a big difference in how voters perceive the threat of the coronavirus. 61% of Asian Americans, 59% of Black Americans and 51% of Hispanic respondents are concerned about getting coronavirus if they vote in person — compared with 39% of white respondents.

Between the lines: In reality, the "overall" views of white Americans gloss over big differences between two groups: white Republicans and white Democrats.

  • White Democrats are much more likely to align with people of color on many of the issues examined in the survey — from fears of clashes at the polls to favoring elections by national popular vote to restoring felons' voting rights.
  • There's a 20-percentage point gap between the share of white Democrats and white Republicans who say they're either "very" or "somewhat" concerned about voter suppression in their state.

What we're watching: Most Black respondents (82%), Hispanic Americans (77%), Asian Americans (63%) and white respondents (59%) say the president should be elected nationally by popular vote rather than by the Electoral College.

  • Two-thirds of all Americans say election day should be a national holiday.
  • About eight in 10 voters overall support requiring photo ID to vote in person, slightly less — 73%— for Black respondents.
  • Majorities of Black Americans (81%), white Americans (70%), Hispanic respondents (64%) and Asian Americans (63%) support restoring voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time.
  • Only Black Americans (52%) favor allowing convicted felons who are still in prison to vote.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Race and Voting Poll was conducted Oct.8–15, 2020, by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 2,052 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ± 2.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
  • The study was conducted in both English and Spanish.
  • The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, race/ethnicity by gender, race/ethnicity by age, race/ethnicity by education, race/ethnicity by region, and party identification.

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