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Survey: Educating liberaos on the importance of state legislative races

Progressives have had great success in motivating supporters to vote in national congressional and presidential races. But why do so many liberals “roll-off,” or fail to vote for progressive candidates further down the ballot?


Sister District  and Data for Progress teamed up to survey more than 5,000 likely voters in Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to better understand the reasons for such voter roll-off. Among their key findings:  


  • Conservatives have been trained to feel an urgency about state legislative elections, while liberals have not.


  • Voters, especially roll-off voters, have massive knowledge gaps about what state legislatures do, including their primary role in enacting abortion policy.


  • Knowledge about state legislators is lower among liberal roll-off voters than among their conservative counterparts.


  • Voters of all persuasions often don’t know what state legislators do, but conservatives vote for state candidates anyway.


  • Conservatives believe the state level is where most power should be placed, while liberals believe federal level is where most power should be placed.


  • A majority of roll-off voters feel that their vote for a state legislative candidate doesn’t matter; a third of roll-off voters feel their vote doesn’t matter in any election.


  • The voters most likely to roll off? Women, voters of color, and younger voters.


Sister District is working to develop and test messages that will empower and excite liberal voters to vote for state legislative candidates this fall. We’re curious what they come up with, but at the very least, it seems we need to do a much better job giving voters state legislative news, making clear how their state legislatures can make major (unwanted) changes in their lives.


You can get much more information, including tidbits like what news sources roll-off voters rely on, at Sister District’s excellent Down-Ballot Roll-Off Resource Hub.

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