With midterm elections fast approaching, supporters of women’s rights are working to maintain control of the Senate. A large demographic of voters called the Rising American Electorate could sway votes in their favor, as this group is populous, influential, and tends to hold beliefs that support women’s rights, labor unions, equal pay, and raising the minimum wage (for example).
The Rising American Electorate (RAE) is comprised of differing demographics that come together under a similar set of beliefs. Unmarried women, people of color, and young voters aged 18-29 comprise this particular voting bloc.
Together, they make up the majority of eligible voters in the United States. At 54 percent of the total American electorate, their size alone gives them a great deal of power to influence political decisions.
Further, this group tends to lean toward more left in their political beliefs. This makes them a critical target audience, especially in this year’s midterm elections.
Though these voters exist in large numbers, their voter turnout levels can be surprisingly low, especially in “off-year” elections. Even more surprising is the number of RAE not registered to vote.
A poll from Women’s Voices, Women’s Vote finds that voters within the RAE are far less likely to vote in midterm elections than voters outside of the RAE. While 79 percent of non-RAE voters in 2012 said they were “almost certain” to vote in the 2014 midterm elections, only 64 percent of RAE voters said the same.
More shocking statistics were revealed by the Voter Participation Center, whose polls show that huge percentages of RAE groups are not even registered to vote, including 39 percent of unmarried women, 51 percent of young people, 37 percent of African Americans, and 48 percent of Latin@s.
The question on everybody’s mind is how to mobilize these voters, who could play such a vital role in the upcoming elections.
An article by the Campaign for America’s Future suggests that President Obama won over the Rising American Electorate in his 2008 campaign “with policies that addressed the specific needs and shared concerns of each group, and a message that fully included them in the American identity.”
Similarly, to win votes from the target audiences that make up the Rising American Electorate, politicians must cater to the issues that are most relevant to their lives.
Some primary issues that tie these groups together are economic policies. Particularly, unmarried women care about economic issues that affect working women and mothers, such as equal pay and raising the minimum wage.
Unmarried women and people of color are among the highest numbers of recipients of SNAP benefits and other social welfare programs.
Additionally, issues that tend to appeal to these groups are issues of women’s reproductive health. Unmarried women care about reproductive rights because they are a highly affected group with 83 percent of sexually active unmarried women using some form of contraception and 56 percent of women who get abortions are unmarried.
Unmarried women and women of color are more likely to have a low income and are not able to afford adequate (and reliable) contraception or other reproductive care, therefore they are more likely to support candidates who will fight for better access to those services.
Lupe Rodriguez, a Planned Parenthood representative, writes that, “Building the power of the RAE to have a real voice in the electoral system is a major step toward achieving reproductive justice because it puts the communities most affected by these inequities at the heart of changing them.”
Now we just need to GOTV like our lives depend on it.