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
12 months 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. phil

    Is this a real topic?

    May 9, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  2. Fil

    Of course, when you are given the alternative we had. I still voted for Romney, but just out of desperation.


    Cohen the Barbarian

    May 9, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  3. Tundra_Yet_Again

    That's because the general white population did not have a person to vote for

    May 9, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  4. Farrok

    America is changing and no one can change it. It’s changing politically and socially. It will change militarily also do to these major changes. The old White motto of do it my way or else is coming to an end.

    May 9, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  5. PushingBack

    Brace yourself...a wave of inane comments about entitlements is coming this way.

    May 9, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  6. phil

    dont think it matters which racial majority outvoted the other lol voters are voters

    May 9, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  7. JJMiami

    Good article but black turning out in bigger numbers to vote is not a changing demographic, it is a change in culture, in participation in this great system we have!

    May 9, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  8. Matt_b_218

    tough challange for repubs in the next election

    May 9, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  9. E Sant

    Cue to Xenophobic comments in 1...2...3...

    May 9, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  10. Brian

    Looks like the voter-ID stuff backfired on Republicans! Maybe the GOP will try a poll tax next time.

    May 9, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  11. jonnyg

    Some voted as many as 6 times we have since learned

    May 9, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  12. Mitzi

    The inevitable trolls aside, I see this as a positive. I'm white and in my mid-twenties, but my friend circle has always been a diverse one in age, gender, and race. The more people we have voting, the greater a democracy we'll be.

    May 9, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  13. gladiatorgrl

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

    The party of big money old white guys looks smaller everyday

    May 9, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  14. Uncle Sam

    Why am I not surprised.

    May 9, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  15. TexDoc

    This shows no further need for DOJ oversight and micromanaging elections in the states. I hope SCOTUS takes this statistic into account when it reviews the voiting rights act of 50 years ago.

    May 9, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. SHADES

    SO suddenly they care? I dont get it

    May 9, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. Andrew Kithimba-Smyth

    America is not about skin color. Articles like this fuel demarcation and ethnic/racial animosity. Get out of the box please and grow as an American!

    May 9, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  18. sc

    and will happen again next year.

    May 9, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  19. StarshipTrooper

    African americans need desperately to make their voices heard.

    May 9, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  20. Michelle

    It seems like there's more of an attitude that 'my vote doesn't matter' among the white voters I know. I'm married and a minority, and on my side of the family, pretty much everyone considers it their civic responsibility to vote. Even if you don't think your candidate will win, you get out there and you vote because it's both a right and a privilege that people in many other countries do not have. In my husband's family though, there's more of a 'what's the point?' mindset.

    May 9, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. Charmaine Nokuri

    Praises be to the Creator and for the blood of the martyrs Meadger Evans, the four little girls of Alabama, SNCC, the men that died in Mississippi.

    May 9, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  22. Ed1

    That's because of voter fraud.

    May 9, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  23. Mike Jones

    With these kinds of results can someone explain why African American males are in such dire straits when they overwhelmingly supported the first African American President at the polls? Why is President Obama spending so much time supporting the special interests of Hispanics and Homosexuals and not mentioning anything about the problems that Black Americans are facing??? He'll be remembered as a historical figure that made no real impact on history outside the fact that he was the first Black President. Did nothing to help improve the condition of Black Americans. Helped Hispanics, Homosexuals, etc, etc but not the group that supported him the most. I'm sure the next Presidential candidates will remind the public (espcially Black Americans) about this often. Looks like next time Black Americans will have to vote for somebody that will promise to do something and not just because they are black (Sorry Samuel Jackson).

    May 9, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  24. lloyd roberts

    The republican party needs to get back to it's roots and away from southern religious right domination. They need to become fiscally conservative and socially moderate where most white voters are. Nobody but the tea party likes a hard edge. This isn't two football teams competing, this is America

    May 9, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  25. Obahtr

    They don't want to lose those free handouts!

    May 9, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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