EXCLUSIVE POLL: More Than 50% of African-Americans Are ‘Very Concerned’ About Paying for Basic Necessities

VICE News will ask 9 of the Democratic 2020 candidates how they'll address the issues of black and Hispanic voters at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Forum on Jan. 20.
Cameron Joseph
Washington, US
A man displays his "I Voted" sticker after voting in the library at the Midnight Mission in Skid Row, downtown Los Angeles, California on November 6, 2018.

WASHINGTON — America is experiencing a booming economy and record unemployment, but not everyone is feeling it.

Large majorities of both African-Americans and Hispanics say they’re worried about job security, housing, and being able to pay for education and basic necessities, according to a VICE News-Ipsos poll focused on African-Americans and Hispanics.

A majority of African-Americans say they’re “very concerned” about being able to afford housing (57%) and food and household necessities (54%). That’s much higher than the 34% of non-Hispanic white Americans who said they were “very concerned” about those things.


Nearly half of African-Americans (49%) and 43% of Hispanics are “very concerned” about job security for people in their households, compared to 27% of white Americans. Just under half of Hispanics say they’re “very concerned” about affording housing (49%) and affording food and household necessities (45%).

Large numbers of white people also say they’re feeling squeezed economically — at least half of white respondents said they’re also concerned about being able to afford every category we asked about except higher education. But the level and depth of their concerns isn’t nearly as high across a number of measures as blacks and Hispanics.

READ: Just as many African-Americans say they'd consider voting for Bernie Sanders as Joe Biden

The poll results show how ongoing economic inequality between racial and ethnic groups continues to drive much higher levels of financial anxiety in black and brown communities even as unemployment rates have reached historic lows in both groups.

“Despite the ongoing economic expansion, Americans — particularly minority Americans — are still very anxious about their economic security,” said Chris Jackson, public poll lead at Ipsos. “With large majorities of Americans concerned about affording healthcare, housing, or basic necessities, it is clear that the boom has not translated to stability for most folks.”

These numbers come from an online poll conducted by Ipsos for VICE News that includes extensive questions about what issues African-Americans and Hispanic Americans care about the most ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The study included questions on climate change, immigration, healthcare, the economy, LGBTQ rights, criminal justice, and reparations. The full polling memo can be read here.


VICE News is presenting the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Forum, the nation’s oldest nonpartisan presidential forum dedicated exclusively to addressing issues facing communities of color, on Monday, Jan. 20 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We’ll be asking the 2020 candidates about these issues then.

Here are some other major standouts from our extensive polling.

African-Americans say racism is the biggest threat facing the country

Even with their high levels of economic concerns, African-Americans still see racism as the biggest threat facing the country.

A full 50% of African-Americans say racism is one of the “main problems facing the country right now.” That’s a substantially higher number than any other issue — and much higher than the number of white and Hispanic Americans who said racism is a main problem facing the country.

Only 19% of white Americans and 30% of Hispanics said racism was one of the main problems facing the country right now.

Whites and Hispanics say they worry most about healthcare

Americans’ top issue overall in the poll was healthcare costs, with 49% of all poll respondents listing it as one of the top three problems facing the country.

But it’s a bigger relative worry by far for white respondents than other groups: 57% of white poll respondents say it’s a main problem facing the country, compared to 30% of African-Americans and 39% of Hispanics.

Hispanics also picked it as their top issue. Racism tops the list of concerns for African-Americans, while healthcare came in second at 30% and 29% said an unfair criminal justice system was a top problem.


After healthcare, Hispanics list global warming (33%) as their next-biggest issue, with 31% saying illegal immigration is a main problem facing the country. African-Americans see “an unfair criminal justice system” as their next biggest concern behind racism and healthcare costs.

While healthcare was by far the top issue for white Americans, 37% said drug and opioid abuse was a main problem facing the country, 36% picked illegal immigration, and 33% picked global warming and climate change.

African-Americans and Hispanics are much more supportive of Medicare for All than white Americans

Medicare for All, a hot-button issue in the 2020 race, has much stronger support from African-Americans and Hispanic Americans than it does with non-Hispanic white Americans.

Fully 77% of African-Americans and 65% of Hispanics support Medicare for All in our poll, a number that drops to 54% with whites. It’s at 60% support overall, slightly higher than other recent polls have found.

That gap in support for the policy is largely driven by big partisan divides with Americans — the Republican Party is heavily white, while the Democratic Party is quite diverse.

There’s not much difference in support for Medicare for All among different groups of Democrats in our poll — 82% of African-Americans, 77% of Hispanics, and 75% of whites support it.

That might help explain why just as many African-Americans and even more Hispanics say they’d consider voting for Bernie Sanders as Joe Biden in the general election, as VICE News revealed on Tuesday.


Only 39% of Hispanics say the Democratic Party “cares about people like me”

African-Americans and Hispanics are key parts of the Democratic coalition. Together, they account for more than one-third of all general-election Democratic voters. But that doesn’t mean they feel like the party is always in their corner.

Only 39% of Hispanic poll respondents say the Democratic Party “cares about people like me,” with 21% disagreeing and 32% saying they neither agreed or disagreed with the statement.

Democrats’ numbers were better with African-Americans, the most stable part of their coalition — 54% said that Democrats cared about people like them, while 13% said the party didn’t.

That doesn’t mean that either group is ready to flock to the GOP: Just 25% of Hispanics and 15% of African-Americans said the Republican Party cared “about people like me,” with 38% of Hispanics and 52% of African-Americans disagreeing. But these numbers are a warning sign for a Democratic Party that’s become increasingly dependent on turning out brown and black voters at high numbers in order to win elections.

African-Americans and Hispanics are just as supportive of LGBTQ rights as white Americans

When asked if “more needs to be done to protect the rights of LGBTQ people,” 47% of African-Americans and 42% of Hispanics agreed, compared to 40% of whites. Just 17% of African-Americans and 23% of Hispanics disagreed, compared to 29% of whites.

African-Americans and Hispanics want the Democratic ticket to reflect them

The Democratic field has grown whiter as a number of once-promising black and Hispanic candidates have dropped out — every one of those who made the last Democratic debate were white. That might be a problem for black and Hispanic voters, a majority of whom would like to see a minority on the 2020 ticket.

57% of African-Americans said it is “important” that Democrats should put a minority on the ticket and 53% of Hispanics said the same. Only 21% of whites said a minority on the ticket is “important.”


Just as many African-Americans would consider voting for Bernie Sanders as Joe Biden

Fully 56% of African-Americans said they’d “consider voting for” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2020 — a statistical tie with the 54% who said the same about former Vice President Joe Biden and significantly higher than any other candidate.

Only 23% of African-Americans said they wouldn’t consider voting for Sanders, about the same number as the 24% who said they wouldn’t consider voting for Biden.

Sanders does even better relative to Biden and the rest of the field among Hispanics: 47% say they’d consider voting for Sanders, while 37% said they’d consider voting for Biden. More Hispanics say they wouldn’t consider voting for Biden (37%) than wouldn't vote for Sanders (31%).


This poll was conducted by Ipsos from Jan. 8-10, 2020, on behalf of VICE Media. For this survey, a sample of roughly 2,013 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii were interviewed online in English and Spanish. The sample includes 784 white respondents, 585 African-American respondents, and 577 Hispanic respondents including 229 white Democrats, 417 African-American Democrats, and 293 Hispanic Democrats.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval, which in this case is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents, 4.0 percentage points for white respondents, 4.6 percentage points for African-American respondents, and 4.7 percentage points for Hispanic respondents. Those numbers were plus or minus 6.5 percentage points for white Democrats, 5.5 percentage points for African-American Democrats, and plus or minus 6.5 percentage points for Hispanic Democrats.

Cover: A man displays his "I Voted" sticker after voting in the library at the Midnight Mission in Skid Row, downtown Los Angeles, California on November 6, 2018. (Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)