As part of the ‘Yes on Prop 47’ campaign, California Calls Action Fund had one-on-one conversations with 145,282 new and occasional voters statewide in the four weeks before the November 2014 election. 100,754 voters said that they supported Prop 47 and on election day. 54% of them went to the polls – a turnout rate 12 points higher than voters statewide.
The passage of Prop 47 is the latest example of how grassroots organizing works.
Check out 4 ways that California Calls’ long-term, strategic organizing led voters contacted by California Calls Action Fund to participate in the election at higher rates than other voters statewide.
1. Immigrant Voters defied campaign polls
Polls taken months before Election Day showed that Prop 47 was not popular with immigrant voters, especially women, because of concerns about community safety. Leading up to the election, California Calls Action Fund and PICO California reached out to immigrant voters to educate them on the truth of how Prop 47 would impact their families and communities. California Calls Action Fund identified 27,899 immigrant voters. On Election Day, 57% of them turned out to vote – 20 points higher than immigrant voters statewide!
Since 2009, California Calls has built trust in immigrant communities by engaging immigrants through one-to-one contact with grassroots leaders from their community. This strategy allows leaders to contact voters in their native languages, making it easier for voters to get the information they need about important policies. To date, California Calls has contacted 203,184 immigrant voters and identified 80% as supporters of policies that that prioritize funding for education and critical services, close corporate loopholes and expand democracy to all Californians.
2. Voters of Color turned out to end over-incarceration
African American voters were crucial to the passage of Prop 47 because their communities feel the greatest impact of years of over-incarceration and harsh sentencing. The Yes on Prop 47 campaign focused heavily in African American neighborhoods and the efforts paid off on Election Day: 55% of Black voters contacted by California Calls Action Fund during the campaign turned out to vote ,compared to only 35% of African American voters who turned out statewide—an 20-point increase!
California Calls also organizes in communities with a high density of Latino and Asian voters. Latino voters contacted by California Calls Action Fund during the campaign turned out 20 points higher than other Latino voters statewide and Asian voters turned out 21 points higher.
Grassroots leaders engage African American, Asian, and Latino voters year round in face-to-face conversations. To date, voters of color make up 68% of all California Calls supportive voters.
3. Young Voters seized their chance to speak out
Voters age 18-30 have experienced first-hand the results of criminal justice policies like Three-Strikes, which passed with 70% support before they were old enough to vote (and before some of them were born). These young people have seen their families and communities impacted by high rates of incarceration and their schools left behind as the state increased prison spending annually at the expense of education.
California Calls Action Fund identified 19,505 young voters and 26% turned out to vote on Election Day – 8 points higher than young voters statewide. This is important progress, and we still have a lot of work to do.
As one of the most underrepresented groups in California, California Calls has used text messaging and social media to engage and educate young voters. Over the last 6 years, California Calls has identified 127,345 young voters supportive of our policy agenda and continues to make inspiring young people to vote a priority.
4. Changing Landscapes in Shifting Areas
As demographics in California shift, many areas that once leaned away from progressive policies are experiencing a shift in the electorate that is changing the way people think and vote on issues of social and economic justice.
In all, California Calls organizes in 8 shifting counties: Fresno, Kern, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura. In the last election, voters identified by the Action Fund as Prop 47 supporters in these counties turned out 8-24 points higher than other voters in their county.
For example, in Riverside County, voters contacted by California Calls Action Fund not only turned out 24 points higher than voters county wide, voters contacted by California Calls Action Fund and PICO California Action Fund accounted for a combined 4.8% of the ‘Yes’ vote – creating the margin of victory for Prop 47 in Riverside County.
The passage of Prop 47 in November 2014 was the first time in over a decade that Riverside County voters passed a progressive statewide policy. This win demonstrates how engaging and turning out the emerging electorate – low-income people, voters of color, young voters and immigrants – can make the difference in important elections.