Shailly Gupta Barnes (@ShaillyBarnes), author of the October 2021 report "Waking the Sleeping Giant," is policy director at the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice

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The Fate of the 2022 Midterms

by Shailly Gupta Barnes 12-28-2021
How poor and low-income voters could decide the next election.
Illustration of a field of red voting check marks

Illustration by Michael George Haddad

IN THE LEAD-UP to the 2020 elections, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival organized a massive voter drive reaching 2 million poor and low-income voters in 16 states, including battleground states such as Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This effort, as shown in our October report, “Waking the Sleeping Giant: Poor and Low-Income Voters in the 2020 Elections,” contributed to higher turnout among poor and low-income voters who may be key to shifting the political terrain in 2022, 2024, and beyond.

According to our research, poor and low-income voters (households with income under $50,000 a year) made up approximately one-third of the voting electorate in 2020. They made up at least 20 percent of the total voting population in 45 states and Washington, D.C. In battleground states (those with a margin of victory of 5 percent or less in 2020), the numbers were higher, ranging between 35 and 45 percent of the total vote share. These findings cut against long-standing assumptions that poor and low-income people are apathetic about politics or elections. Instead, we found that they register at comparable rates as the rest of the country—and they vote, especially when their concerns are on the agenda.