Blacks outvoted whites in 2012, the first time on record
Residents of the historically African-American neighborhood of Harlem wait in line to vote on Election Day. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
May 9th, 2013
08:00 AM ET
2 years ago

Blacks outvoted whites in 2012, the first time on record

Washington (CNN) – A new Census Bureau report shows a higher percentage of African-Americans than whites voted in a presidential election for the first time in history last year during the matchup between President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

The report, released Wednesday, found that more than 66% of eligible blacks voted in the presidential contest. Only 64.1% of whites turned out to vote.

This marks the first time since 1968 that blacks turned out at a higher rate the whites.

In addition to blacks turning out at a higher rate, the number of Asian and Hispanic voters grew from 2008 to 2012. Hispanics added 1.4 million people and Asians added over 500,000. Between 1996 and 2012, blacks, Asians and Hispanics all saw their percentage of the voting population increase.

"Over the last five presidential elections, the share of voters who were racial or ethnic minorities rose from just over one in six in 1996 to more than one in four in 2012," said Thom File, the report's author.

The highest turnout of blacks, in addition to the growing number of Hispanics and Asians, could also explain Obama's success in defeating Romney.

According to CNN exit polls, 93% of African-Americans, 71% of Hispanics and 73% of Asians supported Obama over Romney.

OPINION: Belcher: Historic milestone for African-American voters

Some other findings from the Census Bureau analysis:

• While the Latino vote might turned the election toward Obama and caused much post-election soul-searching among Republicans, the Census Bureau data showed that Latino's turnout rate was far below that of blacks and whites – only 48% of the Latino population turned out, which was nearly two percentage points below the 2008 rate. While the Latino population in the country increased by about 1.4 million to 11.2 million from 2008 to last year, the number of Hispanics who were eligible to vote but didn't grew by 2.3 million to 12.1 million.

But because the Latino share of the under-18 population, they should become an important bloc in the future. While Hispanics make up 17% of the nation's overall population, 24% of the country's under-18 population is Latino.

• Youth voter turnout also declined between the two elections: The turnout rate of those 18 to 24 fell to 41.2% last year, down from 48.5% in 2008. At the same time, the turnout rate of those 65 and older increased from 70.3% in 2008 to 71.9% last year.

But like Latinos, so-called Millennial generation – adults born after 1980 who are now between 18 and 33 – continues to grow. While Millennials are currently 25.5% of the electorate, they are expected to make up 36.5% by 2020.

• Besides the record rate that African-Americans voted at, non-whites made up 26.3% of all voters, another all-time high. The share of the non-white population is also expected to rise from 33.9% to 37.8% in 2020 and 54.8% by 2060, according to Census Bureau projections. Republicans should be concerned – Mitt Romney captured only 17% of the growing non-white population.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (620 Responses)
  1. Gonzalo

    The point, I see, was percentage of demographic groups showing up to vote. Say what you want to say, With Blacks, Hispanics and Asians growing in numbers the way they are compared to Whites, they are increasingly not identifying with the Republican Party's message nor are their children. Since there are only two main political parties, one can derive that the trend will continue until their is a major shift in Republican politics.

    May 9, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. cedar rapids

    'Pushover – And I question their statistics as well. How is it such high percentages of minorities voted for Obama, but he only won the popular vote by 800,000 out of over 120 mil cast?'

    Huh? which election did you watch? final result was 65.9 million Obama, 60.9 million Romney. Thats 5 million, not 800,000

    May 9, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. KeepItRealDrake

    @Pushover, check your facts, Obama had 65,910,437 and Romney 60,932,795 in the popular vote. That's, uhh, just under 5 MILLION votes. Durrrrrrr.

    May 9, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. bill

    Why is voter turnout in the 97% range

    May 9, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Libertarian

    Call me when either major party puts up someone worth voting for more than just based on skin color (93% for) or money. Both candidates were worthless.

    May 9, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda/Minnesota:
    You and I, Lynda, represent America. We are of different backgrounds, perhaps even different races, I believe that at some point of our lives we have both voted Republican, and have voted Democrat.
    We go with whom we think is the best candidate given the choices. Who reaches our hearts. Who makes us believe and relive the American Dream.
    Hillary was my girl in 2008 until I heard then-Senator Obama speak. The rest is history.
    I say all this to say that I don't have the slightest idea who in the hell these things are that go around calling themselves Republicans. These things are the most radical, blatantly racist, backwards thinking, overtly smug, irrational, country-hating obstructionists I have ever seen.
    While our country was left on life-support by the previous occupant and his Congress these blood-suckers decided that it was not enought that we were on th border of a complete financial breakdown. No. They chose to also break our spirit. Break the fiber that bonded us together by making it their ONLY priority to break our duly-elected President and all the American dreams and hopes that he represented and that got him elected.
    Break the President even if that meant kill the country.
    They are not worthy of my vote. They are no longer worthy of your vote. They need to be purged so that our country may survive.

    May 9, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Robert

    That's because of all of the election fraud. There were some districts in which Obama got 100% of the vote, too. There were also disabled people who were bussed to election booths and forced to vote for Obama. The Democrats' most loyal voters are dead people and illegals.

    May 9, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Jack

    What kind of statistics is this?

    May 9, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. brad

    It would be error to believe that this represents a permanent shift in voter behavior. It is more than coincidence that the first year blacks out-vote whites is the same year that an African American is running for re-election. To illustrate my point, would this higher voter turnout among blacks have occured if it were, say, Joe Biden running for Re-election? Bill Bradley? Howard Dean? Even Hillary Clinton? Probably not. Assuming the Democrat Party does not nominate another black candidate in 2016, you will see the black voter turn out drop back to historically consistent levels. As an aside, the suggestion here is not that black voters turned out en masse to vote for someone with a shared skin color – indeed, they turned out to vote for someone they believe has shared "values". It just so happens that, as a matter of human nature, we have grown accustomed to basing value systems on our skin color, right or wrong.

    May 9, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. como1

    And when minorities are the new majority will they have the courage to give up their "privileged" but equal status under the law for true equality. Probably not.

    May 9, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Packard1

    Personally, I really don't care who out votes who in national elections. But when one groups votes 112% of its population, well, that's just a whole lot of voting goin-on.

    May 9, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. jamessavik

    Blacks outvote whites over and over again.

    May 9, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. cdub2k

    So 66.2% of eligible blacks voted while 64.7 of whites voted and this is news???

    I don't have the exact numbers of "eligible voters" but I do have exact numbers according the 2012 Census. 313,914,040 people were reported by the Census Bureau to be living in the United States in 2012.

    78.1 % were white/non hispanic, 13.1 percent black

    78.1% of 313,914,040 = 245,166,865 white people
    13.1% of 313,914,040 = 41,122,739 black people

    So the article says that black people voted at a 66.2% clip and whites at a 64.7% clip. Basing this off of the entire population (313,914,040) approx. 158,622,961 white people voted and 27,223,253 black people voted.

    Obviously everybody isnt eligible to vote so basing it off of the entire population is just as an example but the fact that there are 240+ million white people and 40+ million black people. So saying that black people turned out at a 1.5% higher clip than white people doesnt really change much

    White people still accumulated over 100 million more votes than black people.

    This article was written to antagonize the Anti Obama crowd and place the blame on Black people because surely that 1.5 percent difference is the sole cause for Obama getting elected.

    The reason why Obama was elected both times was because the majority of the 240 million white people voted for him over the other parties. The reason is not because the 40 million black voters. This does not change these are the cold hard facts.

    66.2% of a little does not equal 64.7% of a lot.

    May 9, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Mark

    This article negates the % of black population versus the % of white population. They did bring up an interesting stat regarding the milennial generation and their influence via 2020. The old addages of Old and Wise versus Young and Foolish....the tacit prediction here is that as the millenials get older, wiser and sick of paying huge taxes, the pendulum will change again! It always does and the author, however half-researched he/she is, gave everyone a hint as to the future direction and "correction" in the political process.

    May 9, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. Bob

    The black vote is a write off for Republicans. Latinos matter the most for both parties.

    Any group that finds itself too far into one political party will ultimately get taken for granted and get nothing in return. Blacks HAVE to vote Democrat because they don't have any choice. Now the Latinos are the prized minority group with in the DNC and GOP leaving blacks behind.

    May 9, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. Frank-VET

    I feel that the racist views that ignorant people (who would not name their names I might add) show how we really have not advanced in our nation. Blacks voted for Dems because MOST OF THEM ARE DEMS! Saying that it was because he was black is irrelevant, since many whites did not vote for him due to his skin color. It is sad that a small group of people run the whole Republican Party. They think it must be trickery and gifts instead of their pseudo-Nazi views. I am black and Afghan vet and I believe many people are more racist than they think. We really need to move past this people.

    May 9, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. cysimon

    Although the nation has untold millions of overt, black-hearted, fear-mongering racists- as these boards constantly remind us- still, by far the most pervasive kind of racism in the USA is "UNINTENTIONAL RACISM". Except for the Southern States where most whites are relentlessly brainwashed on a daily basis by Far Right-Wing, HATE-TALK RADIO EXTREMISTS to be bitter, paranoid, hate-filled racists, most white people in America do not realize many of the clearly biased practices, unfair advantages, and built-in discrimination that still persists.

    This never-ending SYSTEMIC DISCRIMINATION is primarily due to the lasting effects of hundreds of years of SELF-PERPETUATING past discriminatory laws, court edicts and commonly accepted practices that effectively block fair and equal access across the spectrum, and will continue to be perpetuated throughout society until fair and just remedies are put in place to address it. While I realize that the majority of whites in the nation overall are not intentionally racist.....the bottom line is that racism IS, as racism DOES!

    May 9, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. ljabarr

    "We're taking over (One city at a time)" – DJ Khalid

    May 9, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Charles

    66.2% of 40 million is still much smaller than 64.7% percent of 240 million

    That headline on this article could trick those kids on those bigger smaller AT&T Wireless Commercials but you can't trick me. 100 million more white people voted than black people. Nice try but the blame is still on you white America.

    May 9, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  20. Dave

    The population is changing. White minorities equal permanent Republican minorities in Congress.

    May 9, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  21. davey

    Probably because barry has done so much for the black cause.

    May 9, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. yogi

    @skarphace
    Great post!

    May 9, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. fleas

    It's about time a majority of them voted. Lets hope it continues even if the next nominee isn't black

    May 9, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. Franky

    This article makes no sense, more blacks voting at a higher rate, does not indicate that the countries demographics is changing, it has no meaning what so ever . It would only mean a higher rate of blacks voted that's it.

    May 9, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. ioutbidu

    How many blacks voted multiple times?

    May 9, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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