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
1 year 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. Randy, San Francisco

    The tone of the comments is indicative of an underlying ugly racist element in the Republican/Tea Party. Republican rebranding efforts will take a long time because of its leadership will not or cannot admit its culture and message contributes to racial intolerance. Whether they like it or not, Blacks, HIspanics, and Asians wil vote Democratic in 2016.

    May 9, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  2. Kyle

    "Blacks Outvote whites" this is why we still have racism. Subjecting Whites and Blacks as two different Groups... We are all one. Way to Go CNN.

    May 9, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  3. Data Driven

    Mmmm, the smell of tribalist fear in the morning smells like frying bacon!

    May 9, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The right wing extremists tried to suppress the black vote with their voter fraud tactics but it backfired in big time. Now, let's forget about the black vote an have an oversight committee hearing on what went wrong on 9/11/01 on our homeland, the illegitimate Iraq war, the missing WMDs, the Afghan war that was deliberately and recklessly abandoned and prolonged for the invasion of Iraq and the trillions of dollars wasted on these wars. And by the way, the parents of the thousands of dead American soldiers want answers after a decade of right wing silence and hypocrisy!

    May 9, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  5. brandon

    obama doesn't win without the white votes he received.

    May 9, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  6. stephen4444

    Ok, so with a growing Black, Hispanic and Asian population, why does the Government still give preferential treatment to minorities on bids? When Caucasians are the minority, will they get any special treatment? Of course not. It is time to end any special treatment of any group. If we are all equal, then let's treat everyone the same.

    May 9, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  7. rl

    Hopefully the current repub/TB party will NOT last much longer. I for one want to have a two party (maybe more if they are viable) system, but am very tired of the party of no. One party will show agin how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This goes for both sides, but is especially true of the repub/TBs who are not even in a one party government and have shown that absolutely corrupts absolutely.

    May 9, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  8. TomCom

    They had to in order to help against all the whites not voting for Obama because he is black.

    May 9, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  9. it must be stated

    It is VERY CLEAR that the Democrat Party has now turned our country and our elections into racial contests. It is also VERY CLEAR we need to establish an organization TO GET OUT THE WHITE VOTE. If it is OK for the Democrats to drive the minorities to the polls then it is OK to drive the whites to the polls as well. It is high time the majority in this country stand up and BE COUNTED!!

    May 9, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  10. Gene

    It always helps the voter turn out numbers when you vote multiple times. Obamaphone!!!!!

    May 9, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. learnusa

    Its about time! One day it will not be about what race voted the most, I hope that time comes soon.

    May 9, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. Steve

    No surprise here. This is why the Democrats pushed so hard to block polling stations from requesting people to produce a drivers license or some other form of I.D. to prove their residency. This allowed people to drive around and vote several times. You had that one guy on CNN who claimed on Camera that he voted 5 times for Obama. Then you had people who were working on Obama's reelection committee driving around picking up illegal immigrants and taking them to the polling stations. It was such a disaster, but that's the only way this slug was going to get reelected.

    May 9, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Jimmy

    "Black voters don't vote based on race"
    Really..............you expect us to beleive that?

    May 9, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  14. Jerome Horowitz

    Run a black guy for president and blacks vote
    Run an Hispanic guy and Hispanics vote
    Run a white guy and white are too lazy to vote
    (and I'm white, and I vote)

    May 9, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  15. Jeff Mansfield

    Let us see if they turn out the same in 3 years when two white guys run.....

    May 9, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  16. Jessica B

    It was a pleasure to vote for President Obama. There was no contest. Romney was an extremely weak candidate. The GOP has a lot of work to do.

    May 9, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  17. People562

    That's Not true. African Americans go to the polls in numbers every election only to find that the polling place has closed or moved. This last election there were so many people watching the polling places that the games Republicans play couldn't happen this time. As for the idiot that responded that they didn't wanted to lose their free handout. What a loser.
    I suppose you think that all the people who lost their jobs because of George shouldn't have gotten help. It's people like you that are so prejudice and hateful because you've never had to walk in anyone else's shoes. I wonder what you do for the poor and hungry. Most likely nothing, but you probably spout off how much of a Christian you are.

    May 9, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  18. Intuitively Obvious

    That's right GG, we'll Never see Republicans helping the poor or minorities adequately enough like the Democrats that is why they will continue to have the hardest time getting votes from minorities! That's A Fact!

    May 9, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  19. Diana

    No Way Out Baby! It is just going to keep repeating itself until the stupid party gets smarter, not smart, just smarte...

    May 9, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  20. Okay so are we all equal now

    Can we start getting to a point where we're all equal and held to the same standards yet? Color, gender, etc? I'm a white male and I'm friends with anyone and don't care who I work with or who my boss is. I do get irratated when there's woman leadership conventions, scholarships for certain color/gender, etc. If we all want equality how can that be the case when we still have that? Hypocritical.....

    May 9, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. The Griot

    So many of you are suggesting that Blacks only voted in large numbers in 2012 because there was a Black presidential candidate. If that was the case, why didn't Blacks support Jesse Jackson during his presidential run? Where was the Black support for former presidential candidate Herman Cain. And Justice Clarence Thomas?
    Your "logic" is flawed. Voters (Black, White, Hispanic, etc) voted for Obama because he was the better man. All other things being the same, if Obama were white, he'd have been 20 points ahead in the polls, and not in a virtual tie with Mitt Romney.

    May 9, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  22. Bob

    And the downfall of this once great nation continues........................

    May 9, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  23. Steve Howe

    Your headline is completely misleading. While blacks did have a slightly larger percentage of voter turnout (after all, they did have some skin in the game), they comprise only 12% of the population which puts them behind the Hispanics. You need to quit making everything black and white CNN and remember there are more colors to the rainbow.

    May 9, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. James PDX

    Yes, Kyle, we have definitely reached the state of utopia where nobody sees color anymore. Hip Hip you'redelusional!!!

    May 9, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. ireuel

    Yes and some of them voted 6 times each. So was it 2% higher or 2% voted more than once. We will never know. Heck President Obama didn't even qualify for being on the ballot in a northern county in Indiana in 2008. Then when (if) immigration bill passes it will be pretty much a one party system. Yes the headline is very misleading and when viewing actual facts it was not really a big swing. I am so proud to a independent, becuase both parties are playing politics. After all that is what they do best. Term limits for all is the only real change we can believe in. Have a nice day.

    May 9, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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