HOPE AND MULTIETHNIC COALITION’S CALIFORNIA POLL SHEDS LIGHT ON OPTIMISM AROUND COVID-19 RECOVERY, IMMIGRATION AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
LOS ANGELES, CA, (May 7, 2021) — As California emerges from the coronavirus pandemic in the midst of continued racial reckoning, challenges in vaccinating hard-to-reach communities, and an impending gubernatorial recall effort, a coalition of diverse non-profits, including Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), have released the fourth edition of a statewide public opinion polling series which launched in February of 2020. The poll demonstrates that Californians have shifted toward optimism around COVID-19 recovery, are supportive of Governor Newsom, and are coalescing on issues such as pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and increased awareness around discrimination against communities of color.
LATINOS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT COVID-19 RECOVERY AND GOVERNOR NEWSOM
Despite higher rates of concern around COVID-19 and only marginal improvements in their economic standing since the beginning of the pandemic, Latinos expressed optimism around vaccines and the re-opening of the economy and schools. Latinos are overwhelmingly satisfied (83%) with the vaccination effort in the state, with 70% saying the rollout has been fair and equitable. 46% of polled Latinos have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 22% report they will get it when available to them, matching a high approval and desire to get the vaccine among all ethnic groups. Similarly, 56% Californians have a positive outlook on the job Governor Gavin Newsom is doing with 58% of Latinos approving.
“The infusion of resources from the Biden administration and the nimbleness of the Governor in ensuring an equitable vaccine rollout bodes well for Newsom’s administration. The threshold of verified signatures was met for the recall of the Governor on April 27 and this poll was in the field April 16-29, showing us that Latinos are supportive of Governor Newsom in real time,” said Helen Torres, Chief Executive Officer of HOPE.
Latinos remain as worried about getting sick from COVID-19 as they were in November of 2020 (76%), and 40% say they are very worried compared to 22% of White Californians. Only 21% of Latinos remain hesitant about getting the vaccine (9% not likely, 9% not at all likely, and 3% unsure) with higher uncertainty among residents of towns and rural areas, Central Valley and Inland Empire residents, and non-college educated individuals.
“The poll shows us that the majority of Latinos have been vaccinated or will be vaccinated once it is available to them. While this is overwhelmingly positive, we must now focus the vaccine effort to engage in micro-targeting at the community level to get hesitant community members vaccinated,” said Torres. “It’s not enough to say we’re going to do something; we must take action to ensure we are addressing unequal systems exposed by the pandemic and investing in reaching these hesitant individuals.”
MAJORITY OF CALIFORNIANS SUPPORT PATHWAYS TO CITIZENSHIP FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS, BUT CONFUSION PERSISTS AROUND IMMIGRANTS’ CONTRIBUTIONS TO ECONOMY
Immigration continues to be an issue of concern to all Californians, as 66% follow news on this issue and 76% agree immigrants face discrimination. A plurality of Californians (41%) believe immigration from other countries has a mostly positive impact on the country as a whole, the majority (73%) agree that treatment of children at the border must be humane, and 57% of Californians agree that there should be a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Only 19% of Californians believe undocumented immigrants should be required to leave with marked difference among different racial and ethnic groups (30% of White, 17% of AAPI and African American, and 10% of Latinos).
When asked about undocumented immigrants’ positive contributions to the economy, support for immigration falls among all groups except for Latinos. Only 28% of White, 35% of African American, 36% of AAPI Californians believe undocumented immigrants have a mostly positive impact on the economy in California, whereas 55% of Latinos believe they have a positive impact on the economy.
When asked without relevant context, 42% of Californians believe undocumented immigrants should receive COVID-19 relief, but when given the information that undocumented immigrants make up nearly 1 in 5 essential workers nationally, contribute over 3 billion dollars to the U.S. economy annually, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and often lack access to healthcare, favorability of relief for undocumented immigrants rises to 50%, with the starkest increase among White Californians, from 29% to 38% favorability.
“While the majority of Californians support immigration and pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, there is much work to be done to uplift the positive impact undocumented immigrants make to the U.S. economy and to change the narrative of immigrants as part of our socioeconomic fabric, especially for White Californians,” said Torres. “The question we must pose is: what is the economic opportunity for the 5th largest economy in the world if we include everyone who is living and working here and contributing to our shared prosperity?” said Torres.
CALIFORNIANS OF COLOR EXPRESS FEAR OF HATE CRIMES AND RACIALLY MOTIVATED ABUSE
This is the fourth edition of a poll initiated in February 2020 with the aim of understanding how California’s most prominent ethnic groups in California felt about race relations. According to the poll, a majority of people of color fear being victims of hate crimes, being harassed in public, being denied housing or job opportunities, and being treated unfairly by law enforcement because of their race or ethnicity. 60% people of color worry about being the victim of physical violence or a hate crime, with AAPI reporting the highest rate of worry (73%). 66% of people of color worry about being treated unfairly by law enforcement, with African Americans at the high of 77% followed by Latinos at 64%. 57% of people of color worry about being denied housing or job opportunities (66% African American and 61% Latinos) and 57% fear being verbally abused, mocked, or harassed in public because of their race or ethnicity, with AAPI reporting the highest concern in this category at 68%.
Fear of harassment and discrimination becomes even starker when taking gender into account. Women across all groups are more fearful for their safety than men. Strikingly, 65% of Latinas are worried about being verbally abused, mocked, or harassed in public because of their ethnicity compared to 40% of Latino men, a 25-percentage point difference. When divided on gender lines, other groups exhibit a less marked difference with a 9-point difference for African American, a 7-point difference for White, and just a 2-point difference between AAPI men and women. Concern for being the victim of physical violence or a hate crime is much higher among women across all groups except for AAPI, where 72% of men and 73% of women report concern. There are also disparities in how immigrant and U.S. born Californians feel about fair treatment by law enforcement with 66% of Immigrants and 43% of U.S. born individuals fearing unfair treatment.
This most recent poll also showed a marked increase in awareness from previous editions around discrimination against the AAPI community across all ethnic groups, from 55% in February to 70% in April, with the biggest increase in awareness from the AAPI community themselves, from 63% to 79%.
“This poll is a reflection of Californians priorities in real time. Our communities have become increasingly aware of the discrimination people of color face as a whole. While it is a disturbing point of unity, it is an opportunity for our groups to come together and act in solidarity for our shared challenges,” said Torres. “This poll also shows us that AAPI, Latinos and Black Californians are not monoliths and whose opinions and concerns are susceptible to current issues. Imagine what we could do to increasingly strengthen community relationships, coalitions, and the leadership of these communities if we decide to invest in them.”
The poll was conducted online by Strategies 360, a Seattle-based polling and research firm, in collaboration with HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality), CAUSE (Center for Asian American United for Self-Empowerment) and the Los Angeles Urban League. The full questions and poll results can be accessed on the firm’s website.