Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

African Americans in Indianapolis overwhelmingly support Joe Hogsett for Mayor, like vouchers and school choice, are most concerned about crime and gun violence, give high marks to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, and the jury is still out on South Bend Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.


Those were just some of the results we discovered in a poll conducted by my media company, IndyPolitics.Org and Mason Strategies. The survey of 400 likely Marion County voters was conducted Aug. 11-14 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.9 %.

The purpose of the poll was to see how things were looking in the race for mayor as well as control of the Indianapolis City-County Council.  However, it turns out we had the resources to ask questions in a few more areas as well. 

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the areas we surveyed.

Indianapolis Mayor’s Race

General population

Democrat Joe Hogsett — 55%

Republican Jim Merritt — 27%

Libertarian Doug McNaughton — 4%

Undecided – 15%

African Americans

Democrat Joe Hogsett — 75%

Republican Jim Merritt — 6%

Libertarian Doug McNaughton — 4%

Undecided – 14%

Favorable/Unfavorable Ratings

Gov. Eric Holcomb

General Population — 60/23

African Americans — 57/21

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

General population — 41/28/28 (don’t know or no opinion)

African Americans — 35/10/47 (don’t know or no opinion)

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett

General population — 70/23

African Americans — 85/10

Indianapolis City-County Council 

General population — 43/30

African Americans — 51/30

State of Indiana on right track or wrong track

General population — 54/33

African Americans — 49/34 

City of Indianapolis on right or wrong track

General Population — 52/38

African Americans — 59/33

Most important issues facing Indianapolis

General Population 

Public Safety/Gun Violence — 24%

Roads and Potholes — 17%

Education — 12%

African Americans 

Public Safety/Gun Violence — 40%

Roads and Potholes — 11%

Jobs/Economy —10%

Education overall in Marion County (right track/wrong track)

General population — 31/49

African Americans — 30/47

Charter school performance in Marion County (right track/wrong track)

General population — 34/37

African Americans —51/36

IPS performance in Marion County (right track/wrong track)

General population — 31/46

African Americans — 46/46

Voucher/School Choice Support in Marion County

General population — 54/38

African Americans — 61/35

There are a ton of things you can take away from these numbers. Buttigieg’s problems connecting with Black voters also exists here in Indiana. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is bucking the national trend when it comes to African American support of Republicans and despite the talk of roads and potholes in Indianapolis, crime and gun-related violence are the top priority in the African American community — most recently illustrated by the double murder of two teenage siblings shot and murdered at 42nd Street and Post Road.

But what I thought was most interesting in all this survey data, were African American attitudes toward education and how there was a divergence from their white counterparts, particularly the more liberal, progressive crowd. For example, while 51% of Blacks thought charter schools were on the right track while 53% of those who described themselves as liberal Democrats said charter schools were on the wrong track.

When it came to vouchers and school choice, 55 % of those who identified as liberal Democrats opposed choice and vouchers while 61% of African Americans supported them.

“School choice is not only a popular policy in Marion County,” said Steven Spiker, president of Mason Strategies “but it is also one that divides Democratic voters and presents a real outreach opportunity to Black voters, who are more highly engaged on education issues than other voters.”

And even when asked whether Indianapolis Public Schools were moving in the right direction, African Americans, by 12 points, gave higher marks than their white, progressive counterparts.

This tells me that the people whose kids are either in IPS or charter schools or taking advantage of choice and vouchers have a much different worldview than the people who don’t. And what’s ironic are those individuals are usually the ones claiming to speak for families of color.

You can read the complete survey results and analysis at my website, IndyPolitics.Org. It will definitely be worth your time will give you a lot of insight on the attitudes of African Americans.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is an attorney, political commentator and publisher of IndyPolitics.org. You can email comments to him at abdul@indypolitics.org.

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