Are People with Felony Convictions More Likely to Vote for Democrats over Republicans?
Carter Wrenn, Republican consultant, as quoted by German Lopez in a Sep. 18, 2020 article, “The State of Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights, Explained,” available at vox.com, stated:
“Of course it’s political. Why else would you do it? Look, if African Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican, they [the GOP] would have kept early voting right where it was. It wasn’t about discriminating against African Americans. They just ended up in the middle of it because they vote Democrat.”Sep. 18, 2020
Ragnar Research Partners, in a Sep. 16, 2019 memo, “Ragnar Labs 2019 Study on Felon Reenfranchisement and Associated Electoral Impact,” available at ragnarresearch.com, stated:
“Ragnar Research Partners has sought to explore how re-enfranchisement may impact the outcome of future elections in the state [Florida]…
Currently incarcerated felons are more than three times as likely to be registered Democrats (1.7:1) or unaffiliated (1.4:1) than Republicans. Ex-felons are four times as likely to be Democrats (2.7:1) or unaffiliated (1.3:1).
Notably, the gap between Democrats and unaffiliated voters is significantly lower among the active population (+7 Dem) than it is among the released population (+28% Dem). This dataset cannot determine whether release is an underlying cause for this disparity, but the correlation should not be ignored…
Compared to the total number of voters currently registered in Florida, both active and released felons are more likely to be Democrats (+4% & +17% respectively). While this should cause Republicans to hesitate in supporting reenfranchisement, it’s important to consider actual turnout among the felon population. Please note this data is based on felons’ voting behavior prior to being incarcerated.
In 2016, Republicans in both the active and released population were much more likely to vote than their Democratic counterparts (+12% & +6%).
This trend held in the 2018 election, where Republican turnout among active and released felons was slightly higher than Democrat turnout (+6% & +2%).”Sep. 16, 2019
Marc Meredith, PhD, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Business Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Michael Morse, Research Fellow at Stanford Law School, stated the following in their Nov. 18, 2013 article “Do Voting Rights Notification Laws Increase Ex-Felon Turnout?,” published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political Science:
“[In New York] ex-felons who are registered overwhelmingly register as Democrats. Of those discharge records that match to at least one voter file record, 61.5 percent match only to Democratic voter records. In contrast, 25.5 percent match only to voter records with no affiliation or an affiliation with a minor party, while 9 percent match only to Republican voter records…[R]egistered ex-felons in New Mexico tend to be overwhelmingly Democrat: 51.9 percent match to only registered Democrats, 18.9 percent match to only registered Republicans, 21.7 percent match to only individuals registered neither as Democrats nor Republicans, and 7.5 percent match to multiple individuals who affiliate with different parties” Nov. 18, 2013
George F. Will, PhD, Contributing Editor at Newsweek, stated the following in his Mar. 13, 2005 article “Give the Ballot to Felons?”:
“Sentimentalism and cold calculation combine to make felons’ voting attractive to liberals. They know that criminals often come from disadvantaging circumstances and think such circumstances are the ‘root causes’ of criminality. As for the calculation, it is indelicate to say but indisputably true: most felons – not all; not those, for example, from Enron’s executive suites – are Democrats. Or at least were they to vote, most would vote Democratic.”Mar. 13, 2005
Marty Connors, while Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, stated in an Aug. 18, 2004 Washington Post article by Kevin Krajick titled “Why Can’t Ex-Felons Vote?”:
“As frank as I can be, we’re opposed to [restoring voting rights] because felons don’t tend to vote Republican.”Aug. 18, 2004
Nicole Lewis, Staff Writer at The Marshall Project, Aviva Shen, Senior Editor at Slate Magazine, and Anna Flagg, Senior Data Reporter at The Marshall Project, in a Mar. 11, 2020 article, “What Do We Really Know about the Politics of People behind Bars?,” available at themarshallproject.com, stated:
“The Marshall Project partnered with Slate to conduct the first-of-its-kind political survey inside prisons and jails across the country…
We heard from more than 8,000 people. Here’s what we found:
A plurality of white respondents back President Donald Trump, undercutting claims that people in prison would overwhelmingly vote for Democrats…
Perspectives change inside prison. Republicans behind bars back policies like legalizing marijuana that are less popular with GOP voters on the outside; Democrats inside prison are less enthusiastic about an assault weapons ban than Democrats at large…
Just like the country, respondents were divided. Forty-five percent of white respondents said they’d support Trump for president, with white men showing the strongest support. That undermines conventional wisdom: Conservative media and politicians often regard incarcerated people as potential Democrats, citing research into the voting habits of formerly incarcerated people. About 30 percent of white respondents chose a Democratic candidate, while 25 percent said they would not vote or did not know which candidate to back.”Mar. 11, 2020
Marc Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, as quoted by Tara Francis Chan in an Apr. 25, 2019 article, “Do Felons Vote Democrat? Why Bernie Sanders’ Idea to Let Felons Vote Probably Wouldn’t Change Election Results,” available at newsweek.com, stated:
“I think it really depends on the state you’re talking about. Felons or ex-felons are much like Americans more broadly, they vote differently based on their racial or ethnic backgrounds. In states where the ex-felon or felon population is more African American there is probably going to be a slightly greater Democratic bent to the group just because of the demographic nature of the population. And in places where the ex-felon population is mostly white you’ll see much less of a partisan difference in how that population votes.
I do think, on average, that Democrats would get more votes than Republicans if we nationwide all of a sudden got rid of felon disenfranchisemen [but the effect is often vastly overestimated]…
I do think people have a misunderstanding of who the ex-felon population is in the U.S.. While it is disproportionately African American, I think a lot of people think it is a majority African American or almost entirely African American, which is not the case. I do think some people probably assume some things about how ex-felons would vote based on incorrect assumptions in their mind about who this population is.”Apr. 25, 2019
Paul Berendt, former Washington State Democratic Party Chairman, was quoted in the May 7, 2005 article “Democrats Flag 743 Votes They Say Felons Cast,” published in the Seattle Times:
“We know for a fact that nonunion, blue-collar, Caucasian men vote very disproportionately Republican, and when you look at the felon population in the state of Washington, they are overwhelmingly nonunion, blue-collar, male Caucasians.”May 7, 2005
Joseph Agostini, former Florida Republican Party spokesman, stated in the article “Study Criticizes Laws on Felon Voting, Democrats, Blacks Hurt, Analysis Says,” by Gregory Lewis, published Aug. 25, 2004 in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
“It’s very insulting to assume felons are Democrats. You can’t assume how they would vote or that they will even register to vote.”Aug. 25, 2004
Tara Huffman (formerly Tara Andrews), JD, Executive Director of Justice Maryland, stated in a Jan. 24, 2006 Washington Times article by S.A. Miller titled “Measure Restores Vote to All Felons; Democrats Say the Time is Right”:
“Mr. Ehrlich [Republican governor of Maryland], whose criminal justice reforms already have won kudos from black leaders such as hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, could attract the felon vote by not vetoing the bill. That’s a very real possibility.”Jan. 24, 2006