Monday, June 1, 2015

What are the most important issues for people of color?

Luckily, we don't have to guess! For decades, Gallup has been asking Americans this very question on a regular basis.

Here's how it works. A Gallup interviewer asks a respondent: "What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?" The respondent volunteers up to three answers, and the interviewer records the responses word-for-word. Then, the data wizards at Gallup group together all the basically similar answers under a single heading (such as "Ethical-Moral-Religious Decline") and count the results.

Got it? Great! Let's see what the numbers say.

The most recent Gallup poll asking this question was conducted on March 5-8, 2015. There were 203 respondents who said they were something other than non-Hispanic whites. Of these, 105 were non-Hispanic blacks and 61 were Hispanic, the rest being Asian or something else. (For those who would point out the fairly small size of this sample, I enthusiastically invite them to obtain a larger one by combining several polls together -- and be sure to report what you find in the comments!)

What follows is the number of respondents of color who volunteered each issue as their first answer***.

In first place, by a pretty wide margin, we have "Unemployment/Jobs" (24 respondents). Then "Politicians" (17 respondents). In third place we have what Gallup called "The Economy (General)" (17 respondents). After that comes "Immigration/Illegal Aliens" (12 respondents, 5 of whom were non-Hispanic blacks; the number of Latinos was not specifically recorded). And in fifth place we've got "Health Care/Hospitals" (10 respondents).

I’d like to point out three other noteworthy items: (1)"Race Relations," as Gallup terms it, was the most important issue for 6 respondents. (2) The criminal justice system was most important for 5 respondents. And (3) elections or election reform was most important for 3 respondents.

As you might imagine, with such an open-ended question the total number of distinct answers was large -- 34 in total, as recorded by Gallup. So to help make sense of them all, I'm going to consolidate them into 10 larger categories of my own design, ordered from biggest to smallest.

For no particular reason, I'm going to call the first category "Bernie Sanders Issues." And I'm going to place Race Relations + Criminal Justice + Election Reform under the single heading, "Race."

Behold: the Vox populi!!

[UPDATE: Note that these are raw numbers, not percentages! The sample size is almost an even 200, so to get a percentage, just halve each number.]

*** As for the second-choice responses, there's not much news there. 156 of the respondents declined to give a second choice, and the top answer, "Health Care/Hospitals" was chosen by only 5 respondents. Nobody gave a third choice.


  1. I will do my usual thing and say that, appropriately sampled and stratified, 203 is a very large sample.

  2. It's unfortunate that the employed and unemployed workers being surveyed cannot see the forest of wage labour because of all the: unemployment, politicians, racism, immigration, health care etc. trees they are offered from the either/or choice lists.