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Study: Race Nor Gender Factor in Black Women Democrat’s Voting Decision

When it comes to selecting the U.S. president, minority women Democrats are most concerned about a candidate’s leadership ability, according to a study released by the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement (LEADS) at Spelman College.

In a national survey that asked what factors minority women Democrats will consider when voting for a presidential candidate, the center found that less than 10 percent of African-American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American women Democrats said that race or gender were the primary motivators for selecting the next presidential candidate. Nine out of 10 women said they will choose a presidential candidate based on leadership abilities, according to the results released earlier this month.

Dr. Jane E. Smith, the executive director of LEADS, said the study’s results trump what some media outlets have been reporting — the notion that Black women are torn between race and gender.

According to the release, the survey is the first to be conducted to explore the political interest and mindsets of minority women.

The study highlights the top three characteristics minority women democrats consider in presidential candidates: 19 percent cited integrity, nearly 15 percent said the ability to make changes and almost 13 percent said experience. Inclusiveness and intelligence also appeared in the top five characteristics at 11 percent each.

When the current presidential race began, Smith said LEADS, which aims to develop and teach a leadership model based on the experiences of African-American women leaders, jumped at the opportunity to test the concept of leadership and began conducting a national survey.

“We were not hearing the word ‘leadership,’” Smith said referring to the dialogues in the media about the candidates’ qualifications.

“In the African-American community and minority community at large—leadership is very important,” she said, adding that members of the Black community often say that the community hasn’t had a good leader since Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

A former CEO of the National Council of Negro Women and the Business and Professional Women/USA organization, Smith said people have been both “intrigued and surprised” by the study’s results.

However, Tinaz Pavri, an associate professor and the chair of Spelman’s Department of Political Science, said that after reading the write-up in the LEADS study and seeing the study’s results, she wasn’t surprised.

“From what our students have been saying, they have a number of different motivations for who they vote for, including race and gender, but also the candidate who best represents their positions and these positions are different depending on who they are,” Pavri said.

The survey was conducted nationwide via telephone. All 905 female respondents were head of household, over 18, and registered Democrats who said they planned to vote in the next presidential election. The randomly selected respondents included 305 Black women, 300 Hispanic women and 300 other minority women including Asian/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.

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