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Low income people key to election

National study shows poor, low-income people strategic in 15 states

Potential poor and low-income voters across the country have the power to affect the outcome of presidential races in 15 states, including Georgia,

according to an embargoed study released Tuesday by the Poor People’s Campaign.

Robert Paul Hartley, an assistant professor at Columbia School of Social Work, wrote the study.

Low-income people are less likely to vote in national elections than those with higher incomes for many reasons, including that candidates don’t speak to their issues; they don’t think their vote will make a difference; and/or they have mobility/time impediments.

But, based on data from 2008-2016, if those poor and low-income people matched the voting rates of those with higher incomes, then there are 15 states where the additional voters could meet or exceed the election margin of victory in the 2016 presidential race, the study says.

The study by Hartley, faculty affiliate of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy and Columbia Population Research Center, shows that if potential low-income voters participated in the 2016 election at a similar voting rate as those with higher incomes, then those additional low-income voters would match or exceed the presidential election margin of 21% in Georgia.

The 15 states where that would happen, in descending order of influence, are: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Arizona, Minnesota, Maine, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Nevada, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, and Ohio.

While the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival doesn’t endorse parties or candidates, it does elevate issues of importance to poor and low-income families.

In Kentucky, for example, the campaign had organized among poor and low-income people for years around an agenda that included voting rights, housing, good jobs, education and health care.

These and other issues were taken up by former Attorney General Andy Beshear, who ran on a platform similar to the PPC’s in 2019. His victory over incumbent Matt Bevin can be attributed in part to the organizing and participation of poor and low-income voters before and leading up to that election.

Forty-five percent of people in Georgia are poor or low-income—a total of 4.6 million residents. This includes 57% of children (1.4 million), 49% of women (2.5 million), 58% of Black people (1.8 million), 70% of Latinx people (728,000), and 35% of white people (1.8 million).

The study also contains information for the U.S. Senate races where the impact of low-income eligible voters would meet the margins of victory, including in key battleground states.

Informed by this study and its organizing over the past several years, on July 26 — 100 days from the Nov. 3 election — the Poor People’s Campaign

began its voter outreach effort called “We Must Do MORE: Mobilizing, Organizing, Registering, Educating People for a Movement that Votes.”

The campaign will reach out to poor and low-income voters and potential voters about its Jubilee Platform to build power around policies that start by meeting the needs of the poor, including health care for all, paid sick leave and a $15 minimum wage.

Contact: Martha Waggoner | | 919-295-0802


The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, is building a broad and deep moral fusion movement rooted in the leadership of poor people to unite our country from the bottom up. We demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.

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