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
10 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.

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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. Concerned voter

    Wow, ..., many of the comments here are toxic!! I think many people are missing the obvious about the black vote: 1) Yes, the turn out was greater because Obama is African American: 2) On average, the vast majorities of two other minority groups voted for Obama: 3) The common link between these groups is financial standing. These groups are more likely to vote for democrats than republicans simply because of the perceived notion that democrats work harder for the less well off than republicans. In general, blacks are more likely to support democrats for this reason. As someone has already inferred, if the black pizza man was the republican nominee and Mrs. Clinton was the democratic nominee which do you think would have gotten the vast majority of the black vote??

    May 9, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. cedar rapids

    'I'm just curious- did Gore or Kerry get 93% of the black vote?? '

    It was estimated by gallop that Gore got 95%, Kerry got 93%.
    All those that claim the black vote for Obama is racist seem to be overlooking that the black vote for democrats in usually in the 90s anyway.

    May 9, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. moistproduction

    If it is true (which it is most certainly not) that black voters only voted for Obama because he is black, then the converse must be true that white voters voted against him because he is black... Who is the racist? Black voters (as well as a large group of white voters) voted for him because they understand who the republican party works for, or better yet who they DON'T work for. If the Republicans truly believe that Obama was voted in because he wants a welfare state then they will be losing the presidency for quite some time into the future... denial is killing the Republican party.

    May 9, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  4. Todd

    So 66% of 12% vs 64.1% of 72.4%. It looks like someone needs to do some more math.

    May 9, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Fast

    I'm African American (I dont beleive there's a race called Black) or White for that Matter.
    Just like in Europe as well as Africa there are many different nationalities.
    To group them all together and call them Black of white is just plain retarded.
    I didnt vote for Obama just because he is Black.
    There where no other candidates besides Romney, Give us more choices Please.
    Obama was not as energetic in this run as the (Change) He shouted about in the first run for office.
    Obama's ok but I think we can do better.

    May 9, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. Kenman

    Didn't post the first time:

    The story is that Hispanics added 1.4 million voters in one election cycle. With numbers like that, and Democrats ready to legalize 12 to 20 million more (with their inevitable family members and relatives yet to come), our nation will lose its American culture and identity because we're being invaded and infiltrated with liberal, Democrat voters.

    The godless party will no longer need to care what most of us think, there will be the predictable degeneration with abortion on demand paid for by us, you won't dare to complain that you don't see any mixed-sex couples, United Nations "peacekeepers" will be stationed throughout to assure our allegiances (since we can no longer afford our own military with all the social programs exploding).

    I feel the "foil hat" claims coming, but ask yourselves; should a Third World country on our southern border (overrun with crime, corruption and drug cartels and open discussion of reclaiming American land) have such a disproportionate affect (both legal and illegal) on our nation, its sovereignty, its culture, and every aspect of life that can be, and is, affected by the exploited political process?

    May 9, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Sidewinder

    @magnum12: What is your post trying to say exactly?

    May 9, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Argentuban

    There is a large percetnage of stupidity and ignorance on both sides of the voting aisle – many people who vote have no clue on the real positions politicians have and who they agree with. Bill Maher did an expose on the red state poor white voters and how stupid they were, and Howard Stern did on on urban minorities. Both showed that people for the most part are stupid, regardless of who they voted for. Makes you think that overall we should have an intellgience test for voting period – but note that the bulk of voters fall in the truly ignorant category.

    As for Obama getting 93% of the black vote, Clinton, Gore, & Kerry got anywhere between 88-93% in all of their elections. This is nothing new for a Democratic candidate. Stop trying to tie it to race. You're only projecting the fact that you are so rabidly anti-Obama because you yourself are racist and voted against him because of his race.

    May 9, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. Wake up People!


    Census forms came postage prepaid. I would know since I processed many of them while working for the census.

    Peoples State. You are one of the biggest, lying, trolling bigots on this site. I wouldn't believe a word you said.

    And to all that are claiming we only voted for President Obama because he was black, who did we vote for previously?? Unless I missed something and there have been black candidates on the ballot since 1965... I remember a record turnout of us for President Clinton too.

    What about the whites that voted for Willard simply because they refused to vote for that (fill in the blank)?? Oh but that's ok.

    May 9, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. cleo


    That means that about 10s of millions more whites voted than blacks. How exactly could blacks have "outvoted" whites?

    Even if 100% of blacks voted and only 20% of whites did... they STILL would not be able to "outvote" whites!

    May 9, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. Odin029

    I'm a Black guy and the during the 2008 election Obama being of African decent had almost nothing to do with me voting for him. Sarah Palin being a health crisis away from sitting in the Oval Office was a bigger factor than the color of Obama's skin.
    The '12 election was different. There was so much thinly veiled racism that it made me sick, and not just about Obama, but about the rest of us Black people in this country. What we were, how we lived, how we thought or didn't think. That actually made me sad. So the second time I was driven to Obama like a member of some unwanted herd. Sometimes I thought that even if I wanted to give my vote to Romney the Republicans would have refused to accept it.

    May 9, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. No Turning Back

    There's no turning back now! Whites are intermarrying and supporting Blacks at a pace faster than you can bat an eye. Therefore, that means They Fully Support Black Democrats in elections also and only a fool who is in denial can't see that Fact! So, you will see more and more minorities attain the highest positions available from now on with the help of White Power! Isn't it ironic though, when you think about it, that at one time Blacks were so hated by Whites and now it's come back to bite them royally! Great isn't it!! 🙂

    May 9, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  13. crabman1

    black white who cares ?? i don't care what color it shouldn't matter just vote

    May 9, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. OrmondGeorge

    AT wrote:
    "the entitlement yote has won over the working man vote – The working man is doomed and shortly after so will the non working man"

    Racist much?

    The rest of your post went on to further your hood wearing nature.

    There is no statistic in any non partisan survey that supports your ideology.

    May 9, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Connor

    This article neglects how millions of variables contributed to why white turnout is lower. Most notably, blacks tend to live IN or VERY CLOSE TO large cities, and therefore have more reason to vote and more importantly, it's easier for them to vote.
    The white population on the other hand is LARGELY rural, and rural at a much higher rate than the black population. This makes getting to the voting booths a lot harder for whites, and therefore not an attractive option.

    Let's look at the voting rates of Urban Whites vs Urban Blacks and Rural Whites vs. Rural Blacks, and I promise you that white people will vote at a much higher rate in both categories.

    May 9, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  16. Eric

    Have you ever noticed that almost all criticism from the sore-losers are either bigoted or enitery based on debunked conspiracy theory? Even if I cared enough to repeat the debunking for the trolls above, I'd get a "I'm not going to listen to your liberal propaganda!" or "you're not going to convice me, so why try?". This country has come to the point where a LOT of very unintelligent people talk a LOT of bull online, and don't care about its truth. They just hope someone else will believe and repeat it. Hello NRA and Fox News! Thanks for all of the lies and misinformation!

    May 9, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  17. the moral us

    All of the stories like this basically say the same thing. The GOP party is going the way of the dinosaur.

    The only people still holding onto the decades old ideals of it are the far, far right. You can no longer win a presidential election by excluding entire groups of people from your platform both socially, economically, sexual preference or otherwise.

    May 9, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. Babyboomer

    I've seen a lot of very hate filled comments on this tread today. While I can't speak for other African Americans, let me just say that my vote for President Obama wasn't about the color of his skin. If that were the case then back in the 80's I would have voted for Jesse Jackson when he was trying to get the Dem. nod or in 2004 when Rev. Sharpton was trying to get the Dem. nod. Hell by that logic, I would have voted for that nut job Alan Keyes all the times he tried to get the Rep. nod. Or the bigger nut job Herman Cain but I didn't vote for any of them. Because they did not have a background in constitutional law, nor were they Harvard Law grads. Nor were they the President of the Harvard Law Review. I must admit, I was impressed with President Obama credentials and the fact that he is "Of Color" was "Gravy". Believe it or not, WE are deeper then YA"LL give us credit for.

    May 9, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  19. @Fast

    Wait, you bemoan the fact that race is described using colors, which is a valid argument. To follow that up by calling it "retarded," negates your validity. Or, you are a very clever troll.

    May 9, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  20. GGOPA

    The same demographics 51-52% that voted for President Obama will vote for Hillary Clinton the first women to be President; she will get 90% of the women vote.
    The 2016 demographics that will vote for Ms Clinton:
    95% Blacks or Afro-Americans, 93% based on CNN 2012 exit poll
    70% Latinos, Hispanics, and Mexicans, 71% based on CNN 2012 exit poll
    70% Asians, 73% based on CNN 2012 exit poll
    85% the elite... he is a Harvard man
    95% Hollywood... die hard liberals
    95% gays and lesbians… first president that approves a gay military and marriage
    90% Unions... lower if union members have a say so… a great cash-cow organization
    50% Independents... depends which way the wind blows
    100% Socialist and Communist... it is their ticket for their agenda
    99% welfare and migrants… the Democrat is the party of the poor
    90% Democrat liberals... some are disillusioned for not closing Gitmo
    70% religious groups... depending on Muslims and Jewish support
    98% atheist, secular, and progressives
    25% Conservative Democrats... supports the Party
    0% Libertarians… they only support libertarian’s principles

    May 9, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. Peoples State of Illinois


    Peoples State of Illinois

    So one incident......what does that bring the level of voting fraud to.....0.0009%?
    Just proving the lie of the left that "no one" voted more than once. Research it, the counties where more than 100% of the population of the county voted, others where people in cemetaries voted etc. Those don't make the news either.

    May 9, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  22. Lee

    Ok, what are the actual numbers who voted. We only see percentages. Blacks make up only %12 of the US population of 300 Million. Whites are still the majority and a percentage of them voted for President Obama also. There is no way just Blacks can put anyone in office without White voters as well.

    May 9, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. Danita

    It's a shame half of them didn't know what they were voting for other than for race and not who had brains to run this country. Lots of people still can't think for themselves.

    May 9, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Michael Murphy wrote:

    If 93% of whites voted for the white candidate, everyone would scream racism. Of course when 93% of blacks vote for the black guy, that's no problem at all.
    I93% of blacks have always long voted for the Democratic candidate, so that's no problem at all.
    So when 93% of blacks vote for the black Democratic candidate, everyone on the right screams racism.

    May 9, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. Danita

    This does not sound true as the black population is much much smaller than white people.

    May 9, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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