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.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker']

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. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Smh at some of these comments. It's really saddening CNN that race bating is what you have to do to spark a constructive dialogue. I've got some conservative friends who would find some of these comments from the right wingers up here repulsive.

    May 9, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Bill from GA

    If only the Dems could get Blacks to vote in the rest of the elections.

    Georgia would have a Democrat for governor. And get one for Senator in 2014.

    NAACP, Wake Up!!

    May 9, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  3. Guy

    Looks like ALEC wasn't at the top of their game.

    May 9, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. chaki36

    Bill Clinton received 84% of the black vote. Oh! And 83% voted for Carter. I guess they are black too. SMDH! Get it together and address the issues.

    May 9, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. Rita Kidd

    This columnist is incredibly off-base in presenting information that the average right-wing reader can make factual sense of. The percentage of the U.S. population that is African-American is 12%. Even if 100% of eligible African-American voters vote for a candidate, there is no way they can outvote whites if eligible white voters are responsible citizens and turn out to the polls in large number. But, as a white person, having reached my 70th year, I can honestly say that in Obama's case, whites will continue to bellyache about this African-American President. Racism, like misogyny, is alive and well in this country. The oligarchs are pulling puppet strings to keep hateful, fearful people engaged in the hate mongering. These haters need to get right with God, not the oligarchs, if they expect the U.S. to prosper again. If racists and misogynists believe that they will be greeted at the pearly gates, they aren't reading the same Bible that I do.

    May 9, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. Keith

    Well republicans have only themselves to blame for trying to be the party of rich and white.

    May 9, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Tim

    I'm sick of the media trying to spread racism. Mitt Romney lost because too many Republican and Tea Party members didn't find him to be an adequate candidate. They also knew that if a Republican were to take office, he'd get the blame when the fallout from the last four years came down. Better to keep the man in office who created the mess. Can't we leave the black/white thing in the past and stick to the issues?

    May 9, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Elena Ferrero

    "The Hispanic race seems to be well ahead of them and they have only been in the U.S. for a few decades. " No really those who most of you ignorant folks call Hispanic or Latinos are actually Native American Indians whose ancestors had been here long before the Spaniards conquered the world, discovered the Americas and brought the black slaves here too long before the UK landed in the USA. ALso Hispanic isnt a race, you are either white, black, asian, mulatto or Native american indian. BTW it seems that now the whitest country in America is actually a Latino nation: Argentina! Just google it.

    May 9, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Data Driven

    @it must be asked,

    Hey American History X, I'm sure there are other websites for you to bemoan the "ever-decreasing rights" of Whites.

    Man oh man, I wish Fox would allow comments again, so that we stop getting the effluvium over here.

    May 9, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. jay

    You title is miss-leading. Although the $ of blacks that voted was higher... there were still 4-5 times as many white voters as black voters.

    May 9, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. jay

    Missleading... there were 4-5 times more white voters than black voters.

    May 9, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. Michealangelo

    This is coming from a black man who no longer supports Obama (he is just toooooo damn weak) on post was right. You try to take our vote away, you call Obama every uncalled for name in the book, they present bills but then veto their own bills because Obama supported them. What this country has shown the world is the we are the WORLDS BIGGEST HYPOCRITS/RACIST. People wonder why the world is not so enthusiatic about capitalism.

    May 9, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Jpji108

    I agree with Odin029. I too am Black and a very conservative one at that. Although I am a registered democrat, I was one of the few Blacks who did not vote for Obama in 2008 but rather voted Republican. I did however vote for Obama in 2012 because not only did Romney turn me off but the entire platform and persona of the Republican party was a complete turnoff. The antics and practices of the Republican party continue to turn me off to this very day–i agree that much of it is thinly veiled racism– eventhough I am one of the coveted Black voters that the party should go after since I do agree with some of their principles and since I have no qualms voting Republican should I perceive their candidate to be the best of the lot and the party to be non-offensive.

    May 9, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. abbydelabbey

    America is a wonderfully diverse nation and that's one of the great things about this country.

    The demographics are changing in America and all those "good ole boys" are losing ground. Why do you suppose all these new voter "id" laws? They can't go back to the "poll tax" but they will try every other trick they can. Maybe, just maybe, the changing demographics will lead to some truly positive changes in America. Let's hope so.

    Looking forward to the future!!!

    May 9, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. really??Awesome!!!

    Thank you to all the African Americans for helping to vote in the best President we've had in a long time. Look at his record, wars ending, Bin Laden caught, stopped the economy from completely collapsing, Obamacare healthcare in, and deficit reduced by 32%!! One hell of a legacy!! Republicans have to admit he's done a great job.

    May 9, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. Lawless4U

    No B, thats not what the article said. It said a higer PERCENTAGE of blacks turned out to vote. 100% of elgible black voters could turn out and there would still be fewer total black voters because they make up less that 15% of the population.

    May 9, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Rudy NYC


    If the Democrats are so helpful to minorities in general, then how do these same minorities do not notice their lot in life has not improved a bit under the Democrats??
    Maybe it's because they've noticed that life gets a hell of lot worse under the Republicans. Bush administration doubled the black unemployment rate when they crashed the economy. If you haven't noticed, I'm pretty sure that black Americans have.

    May 9, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. rs

    If the Democrats are so helpful to minorities in general, then how do these same minorities do not notice their lot in life has not improved a bit under the Democrats?? I hate to generalize on racial matters but it does appear the African Americans seems to still be losing ground socially and economically. The Hispanic race seems to be well ahead of them and they have only been in the U.S. for a few decades. This is just based on my observations. I am from Illinois and Chicago is its usual mess, plus Illinois is broke after 25+ years of Democrats controlling the state. (I look forward to your comments).
    I suspect the fact that the GOP seems to rule just for the rich has reinforced the commonly held attitude that the GOP actively works against the needs of the poor, blue collar workers and ethnic minorities, thus driving those groups towards the Democratic Party. Add in the flaky Republican legislative agendas of late (that might drive off anyone sensible) and I think you see the impact. It is not that minorrities necessarily feel overwhelmingly drawn to the Democrats, but like all other defineable demograohic groups, their majorities (slim or large) are rejecting GOP radicalism.

    May 9, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    It must have been all of those Voter ID laws. No doubt some folks showed up, "Just Checkin'."

    May 9, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. Give me a break

    The takers out voted the makers! Plain and simple. They voted to keep their over bloated entitlements.

    May 9, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. PaulCat

    .......and how many presidential elections have the whites out voted the black?

    ........not to mention what the people in congress is trying to do to this black president.

    ..........but it's okay, the GOP governors will put a stop to this.

    May 9, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. epublicans have steered the country into the ditch

    under the last 3 republican presidents blacks, whites ,hispanic, hell the whole middle class has lost ground, especially after Dubya almost killed the middle class off

    May 9, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  23. clevelandindian

    So we have now discovered that the amount of pigment a person has in their skin determines how they think. Absolutely brilliant. This discovery should be followed up by a 10 or 15 million dollar study. DR. Kings dream still remains just that. Keep using the paint brush and we will always have race determine how a large number of people think. Fact is people are different, much more influenced by their values that how much pigment is in their skin. Just out of curiosity, why do so many white folks spend big money trying to get darker?

    May 9, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    They pissed us the hell off with the way they treated THIS President and by extension our country.
    Hell yes we turned out to vote.

    May 9, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. Patrick

    Whitest states? Wow. Just wow. The northeast US (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the rest) are very blue or Democrat states. If the Democratic party ran a soda can those states would have voted for the soda can. Many people (Democrat or Republican) vote for their party no mater who is running. Claiming those 'white' states voted for Obama based on race is just wrong.

    May 9, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25