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. Carl

    Couldn't be that blacks are racists, could it?

    May 9, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  2. Susan

    Let's see how that holds up in 2016, then we'll have our answer.

    May 9, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  3. Bob

    CNN posting an article about black guys getting out to vote for the black guy. Doesn't that kinda give support to the Republican argument that they only voted for him because he's black?

    May 9, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  4. Kathy0715

    It sounds like that old white men's club known as the GOP/t-baggies are in deep doo doo.

    May 9, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  5. DocHollywood

    And sadly, for both black and white voters we're still looking at only 60+ percent voting. That's how lightly we take our democracy for granted. Instead of being worried about "voter fraud" which is almost totally non-existant as a percentage of the vote, we should be more concerned with getting all of our citizens to participate in the voting process. We might just get representatives who actually represent America collectively instead of individual lobbiests.

    May 9, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  6. YeahRight

    The evangelical right stayed home because of Mitt Romney's Mormonism.

    May 9, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  7. BostonBob

    In other news 1+1=2

    Seriously – how is this news?

    May 9, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  8. Mike

    'Outvoted'....that's funny.....and not possible, unless you mean voted more than once.

    May 9, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  9. Just Me

    This revelation should be a wake up call to all Republicans, but I am not holding my breath since they will in all likelihood continue to insult, demean, and work against not only blacks, but other significant minority groups who now have the collective voting ability to swing the balance of power in this day and age. If they want to have power, they have got to get a sense of reality and stop alienating significant voting blocks of the electorate.

    But again, I'm not holding my breath. I expect many in the Republican party to continue doing what they have been doing for decades now in continuing to insult and work against every significant voting block despite it may cost them national elections. They cannot depend on white votes solely anymore, and they need to adjust to the new reality or go the way of the dinosaurs. It's going to get worse for them in the next decade as the country's minority groups collectively become the majority voting group as the years rapidly approaches.

    May 9, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. Erik in Houston, TX

    If you don't vote, then you have no reason to complain.

    May 9, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. Guest13126

    Of course they did. Many blacks voted 7 or 8 times.

    May 9, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  12. The Dude

    Democracy at work!

    May 9, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. Automated Laser Monkey

    Well it's obviously this can be a wake-up call to the Republican party if they will hear it. Speak TO minorities not around them or ignore them.They are slowly starting with Hispanics. Come up with solutions that address their concerns but you can still try to find ways to make it work with your political ideals. Don't go extreme conservative with it! If you are going to be slaves to Tea Party ideas your party is done! Be moderate.

    May 9, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. plain&simple

    No wonder republicans feel and act like they are in the Alamo! The president in Texas and they are vastly out numbered by people with a different color skin. This is the party's last stand!

    May 9, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. Lauradet

    93% of African-Americans, 71% of Hispanics and 73% of Asians supported Obama. It's time to form a new political party called "The minority party" so our votes will have more impact. Now, we need to stick together to dismantle the dominance of Republicans in Congress that's were the control of the country really lies.

    May 9, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  16. just sayin

    the blacks came out to vote in record numbers because obama has kept many more of them unemployed for a long long time now. they voted for him because he raised the unemployment level in the black community. or was it because of his skin color and government freebies, ie obama phones.

    May 9, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. sevensins

    Obama was elected... not once but twice! Nuf said.

    May 9, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  18. longtooth

    It wasn't just minority votes that re-elected Obama. He still needed white voters to go to the polls, and they gladly did. Also, Mitt Romney's complete disconnect with the average American helped a great deal.

    May 9, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  19. are122

    Blacks unemployment rate = 13.2 percent. You reap what you sow.

    May 9, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  20. Lean6

    You have nobody but the GOP to thank/blame for inspiring that last round of voter behavior. By the looks of things, you will simply be rewriting the same article in 2017, substituting gender for race. The GOP has already started its 2016 White House run, and you can see that they aim to disenfranchise women by milking Benghazi and going after an overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton. Honestly, this stuff isn't even close to being rocket science. The GOP appears to be so disconnected with the public that they might as well be on a different planet.

    May 9, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  21. Freedom Storm

    This is news? When one can vote with one hand and have the other hand out for a huge handout, is it any wonder?

    May 9, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  22. Yep

    Now if you could only get them to be as motivated to find a job....

    May 9, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  23. Texas

    American Indians have to be laughing about all the old white guys fretting over foreigners taking over their Country.

    May 9, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  24. pliny

    The republican party is doomed.

    May 9, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  25. GOP Years are numbered

    The population of government supported individuals is growing and non government supported individuals is getting smaller. Common sense tells you that majority will vote for who is helping you. One of the problems with this is the government will gain more and more control. I am not really sure how the current republican party will last much longer. Especially at the national level.

    May 9, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
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