Blog Post

Message from the Field: Evidence on How to Overcome Racism and Sexism Through Organizing + Briefing

Matt Morrison


Too often our politics are divisive and polarized, preying on the worst instincts of voters to fear those who do not fit what we expect our leaders to look and sound like. These divisions are especially evident when it comes to people of color and female candidates for high office. Just consider the most recent example of the 2022 elections for U.S. Senate seats in Florida, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, as well as the Georgia gubernatorial race. GOP attacks on Democratic candidates, while both negative and fear based, have a different resonance when launched against female and BIPOC candidates, compared to white male candidates. 

Through a set of 83 randomized control trials measuring our vote gain efforts for dozens of candidates, Working America documented the magnitude of the disparate impacts of paid political advertisements between these BIPOC and female candidates and their white male counterparts; but we also identified two strategies that completely eliminated the disparities.

First, when voters were engaged face-to-face, not only was the disparity eliminated, but BIPOC and female candidates enjoyed a slight advantage.

Second, when the voter had a pre-existing relationship with Working America, the disparity in votes gained was eliminated, even for paid political advertisements.

In politics in which billions of dollars are spent every cycle on conventional paid advertising, these findings make clear the inadequacy of that approach for candidates who come from increasingly diverse communities, and call for a reexamination of those strategies. But beyond politics, the evidence points to tools to overcome the ingrained biases that fuel so much of the social divisions in everyday life. Let’s work together to build the movement.

Check out the full report here.

Matt Morrison

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Or you could support our issue education and civic engagement work with a donation to the Working America Education Fund here. Contributions to the Working America Education may be tax deductible.



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