From the pandemic to voting rights to the 2020 presidential election, Americans’ attitudes about politics and policy vary broadly depending on race and ethnicity, according to the results of a massive collaborative survey led by UCLA political science professors Lorrie Frasure and Matt Barreto.

Nearly 15,000 Black, white, Latino and Asian people responded to the 2020 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey, which was offered in English, Spanish, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Haitian Creole. The sample included registered voters from the 2020 election, as well as non-registered adults, including non-citizens. 

“This data collection effort was a massive undertaking in a uniquely intense time in our nation,” Frasure said. “The data reveals some very interesting stories about the American public, our differences and our similarities.” 

Frasure and Barreto serve as co-principal investigators, along with Janelle Wong, professor of American studies, Asian American studies, and government and politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Edward Vargas, assistant professor of transborder studies at Arizona State University. Researchers released their topline findings today.

The survey tackled an expansive list of questions related to politics and policy, including some of the most-pressing issues of the day: 

  • Members of the Asian American Pacific Islander, or AAPI, community exhibited the most trust in coronavirus vaccines. Nearly 79% of these respondents reported receiving the vaccine and only 4% of them reported distrust in it. By contrast, Black and white respondents practically mirrored each other with 17% and 19% reporting distrust in the vaccine. Among Latino respondents, 11% reported distrust in the vaccine.
  • Belief in voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election varies widely by race, with white respondents showing the highest rate of belief that fraud occurred. More than 40% of whites reported belief that there was some fraud in the election results, as compared to only 20% of AAPI respondents, 22% of Latino respondents and 17% of Black respondents.
  • 67% of Black respondents said the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was a coordinated act of insurrection. Among Latino, AAPI and white respondents almost half of each group responding said the event was a protest gone too far.
  • Overall, more than half of respondents said they support legal abortion. Opposition to abortion varies by race, with white and Latino respondents having the highest rates of opposition at 29% and 23% respectively.

More than 200 scholars from nearly 100 colleges and universities participated in the creation of the survey, with the ability to “purchase time” on the survey — develop and add their own specific questions. The survey was partially funded by the National Science Foundation. Overall, it contained more than 800 unique questions. While some groups were asked questions specific to their population, the average respondent answered more than 500 questions.

UCLA researchers launched the first user-content driven Collaborative Multiracial, Post-Election Survey in 2016, following work on smaller versions of the survey after the 2008 and 2012 elections. The project creates opportunities for a growing network of scholars to have access to the full dataset. They can use the survey data to publish articles and books as well as to present at conferences — all critical components of the academic process. UCLA will host a conference featuring research using the survey this summer. 

“One unique strength of this initiative is that it is more than a national survey,” Frasure said. “Our broad network includes academic researchers, housed at public and private colleges or universities, including minority-serving institutions. Many scholars identify as a member of a racial/ethnic minority group, or identify as having been a first-generation college student — or both. We welcomed twice as many contributors to add content to the 2020 survey as the 2016 survey.”

Other notable findings:

  • The survey also captured a snapshot of the physical and mental health of Americans during these troubling times. On average, just less than half of respondents reported “very good” or “excellent” overall physical health. With only slight variances among the groups — 44% of Black respondents reported “very good” or “excellent” health compared to 50% of AAPI respondents, 49% of Latino and 48% of white.
  • The financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been unevenly distributed among racial groups. While nearly 31% of Latino and 25% of Black respondents report someone in their household losing a job as a result of the pandemic, only 15% of white respondents said the same.
  • Survey results also reveal a somewhat jaded view of government and politicians, with less than 10% of any racial group saying they trust the government in Washington, D.C., to “always do what is right.” All groups reported that they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the sentiment “politicians don’t listen to people like me.” According to the data, 72% of Blacks agreed or strongly agreed, 75% of Latinos, 74% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 82% of whites.

“The results from our survey can send powerful signals about what Americans care about,” Barreto said. “As politicians and policymakers confront and embrace the evolving demographics of our country, it will be increasingly important to take stock of differences in priorities and experiences in order to connect with voters and potential voters.”

The survey was collected online in a self-administered format. Participants self-reported their race and ethnicity, with the ability to select more than one. Overall, the survey will include 20,000 respondents, 14,988 of which are included in the primary sample data released today. This group includes 4,005 Black respondents, 3,002 whites, 4,006 Latinos and 3,975 Asians. 

The researchers will add data from the other groups, including Afro-Latinos, Black immigrants, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Muslims and people who identify as LGBTQ. The final dataset will also include a sample of 16- and 17-year old youth. These will collectively add more than 4,000 additional respondents. Findings from these samples will be released in late October.