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. Martin

    African-Americans turned out in great numbers in 2008 and 2012, because so many of us wanted to elect "one of our own". This may have been understandable in 2008, but in 2012 this was just a suicidal choice for us as a community. Under President Obama, unemployment among African-Americans has soared to record heights and unemployment among first time job seekers under the age of 25 (which includes a statistically disproportionate number of African-Americans) was running almost 25%, also a record high. The average length of time that an unemployed Black Man can expect to be without a job has never been longer in modern history.

    Add to that the increased dependence in our communities on federal handouts and other "entitlements" and continued support for the democrats and Obama is pure foolishness. Joe Biden famously said that the Republicans wanted to put "you all back in chains" but the ironic reality is that President Obama is returning us to slavery, a slavery of dependence on the state, binding us with shackles of lost opportunities and hopelessness.

    In 2016 it is unlikely that an African-American will top the democratic ticket and thus, we will likely have less reason to turn out to vote. Hillary Clinton will be the likely nominee and I can only hope and pray that Women as a class have better sense than we African-Americans showed as a class in supporting this horrible president.

    As for me, I will be supporting -again – the nominee of the only political party in America who understands the real value of freedom and that supports the only real policies that offer Black Americans – and ALL Americans, generally – any real hope for a better, more secure, more hopeful future, I will be voting Libertarian.

    May 9, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Keith wrote:

    How many of these people actually voted? It's common knowledge that the black vote was manipulated. Dead people voted, people voted for those who didn't vote for themselves, and some voted multiple times. This story is bs.
    If there was such rampant voter fraud, how come the Republicans didn't challenge those results in court?

    May 9, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. cogadh

    "The highest turnout of blacks, in addition to the growing number of Hispanics and Asians, could also explain Obama's success in defeating Romney."

    Right, because Romney's loss couldn't possibly have anything to do with people disagreeing with his politics or him being a terrible candidate in the first place, it was all because of race. Way to perpetuate the bigoted stereotypes, CNN.

    May 9, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. Mike Texoma

    White men over 50 cannot jerrymander enough, or curtail voting rights enough, or otherwise rig the political machine fast enough to reverse these demographic changes. Democracy works. If they want to help lead this nation into the future they have to face and embrace this new reality. I am surprised that so few of them show any inclination to do it.

    May 9, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Four Two

    What a useless article. Trying to start a fight, CNN?

    May 9, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Terrance

    "Also... what amazing hypocrites on this page. Oh, they "voted for him because he was black"... right. Because no white person EVER votes for someone who is the white candidate, right?

    Jesus, when will this bigotry end?"

    @Lisa, I'm sure some white voters only voted for Romney because he was white, but you really can't deny that the majority of blacks only voted for Obama because he is half-back. There was even a black woman who was interviewed about the election and she told the reporter that she doesn't care about politics but only voted for Obama because he is black.

    May 9, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. John Blackadder

    Sounds like all that anti-minority rhetoric on the part of the Republicans may have been a terminal error!

    May 9, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Amanda

    Created a ticking budget buster and possibly bankrupt our nation with his health care laws and scared most industry from investment with his EPA is what Obama has done. Like this survey is a surprise, that the blacks voted for a black man, wow what a shock. Whites weren't going to vote for Romney, they didn't like him, so it was loose looser situation.

    May 9, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Freedom Storm

    Let's see now ... don't tell me ... hold on a minute ... What part of our society has been linked with voting with one hand while the other hand's out for a handout? I think it's a secret ... ... so shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    May 9, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. mike.g

    When the GOP picked Romney to represent them, the race was all but lost at that point. The GOP has the stigma of being a bunch of rich old white men who support only other rich white men. Putting someone up for POTUS who fits that exact description did not help their case at all. They would have been better off setting Ryan up for POTUS, he has more charisma and ability to connect with people. Not saying they would have won then, but the chances would have been better.

    May 9, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. William A. Schaedler

    This country cries out for genuine leadership. Americans need a President whom they can admire and respect. Someone who speaks on television and people actually listen to every word. Someone who realizes that the United States of America is not only a country for the affluent and powerful., but for all people. When someone like this emerges I will once again vote.

    May 9, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. larry bud

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

    God help this poor country! She is like a sinking ship struggling to stay afloat!

    May 9, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. andrew.peter

    The Headline of this article is so misleading. Great sensational journalism CNN. Voting rate and actual turn out are completely different. If the headline were true, with the way "blacks" vote, then the GOP would be DOA.
    Oh, they mean turn out? well that's a different story!

    May 9, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  14. Just Me

    I do not care who you vote for just vote.

    May 9, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. Peoples Statue of Illinois


    Peoples Statue of Illinois


    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.

    Count me in on being pissed off too!
    And some of us are pissed the hell off at the way this president has treated this country.

    Just to be clear: I have nothing but respect for President Obama. You are barking up the wrong tree with me ... again.

    I know exactly what you meant. I know exactly how you believe. I was just pointing out that some of us pay attention to results, rather than the color of his skin.

    May 9, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. sly

    Thank the Lord for President Obama. Stock market going to 16,000. Unemployment plummiting. Our President destroyed two bad enemies. We finally have health care for 40 million who were priced out. And we are safer from foreign terrorists.

    Good times for America – and growing prosperity ahead.

    Thank you President Obama – you are doing a great job.

    May 9, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Dan

    Once Jimmy Carter's nephew released the 47% video, the election was over for Romney.

    May 9, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. David

    Black unemployment is at a 28 yr high. Our muslim raised and muslim named president isnt doing anything for blacks. It's the race thing, but blacks want that welfare that democrats spoil them with. Even latino's voted Obama to keep that free money flowing. America won't last long at this rate.

    May 9, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. overtaxedBK

    Interesting demographic shift... happens to come at a time that more people than ever are living off the government. Gotta get out and vote to keep the gravy train going....

    May 9, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. skarphace

    I still wonder who categorizes these Americans as "Black" or "White". It seems to me that the two groups are not categorized the same. If you are part black, you are categorized as "Black". Only if you are pure Caucasian are you categorized as "White". Of those categorized as "Black", how many are of mixed race?

    Is Obama "Black"? Is he "White"? The answer is neither, or both, not one or the other. However, most would call him "Black" and few if any would call him "White".

    I know, it is a cultural thing, but when are we going to get beyond it? When are we going to stop playing these games where we compare groups that are categorized by race when most people are of a different ethnic background? Sure, I am categorized as "White", but my ethnic background is different than almost all other "Whites". Do they have the same percentage of Norwegian, Dutch, English, German, etc. as I do? Probably very few have my distinct ethnic makeup.

    We are people and we are Americans. This is all that should matter. Color of skin should matter no more than color of eyes.

    May 9, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. New York

    The black and white population are not the same and disproportionate in many ways. comparing the two for statistical reasons will always render your sampling void. 64% of 200,000,000 versus 66% of 30,000,000 is not comparative.

    May 9, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    You know we still have a problem with racism in our country, when someone still feels the need to write this story?

    May 9, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. ritmocojo

    Thus the GOP pushing for voter suppression laws in heavily black districts.

    May 9, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. atlhutch

    For all of you screaming that minorities voted because they wanted to continue with their handouts, let's get back to reality and look at actual numbers. Whites represent 72.4% of the population of the US, roughly 223,553, 265 which means for 64.1% of them to vote, that total was approximately 143,297,642 white people voted. Meanwhile, Blacks make up 12.6% of the population of the US with 66% voting, that only represents 25,693,350 black people voting. President Obama had 65,899,660 votes in the 2012 election. Where did the other 40,000,000 votes come from? And before you say Hispanic, they only make up 16.4% of the population of the US or about 26,735,713, now keep in mind, that I did not account for those only in 'voting' age, so that would make these numbers smaller. Before you start pointing fingers, do some real research and look at actual numbers and not just percentages. You can manipulate a percentage to mean anything you want it to. Stop basing everything on race and just realize that people, all people are just fed up with up with the Republican rhetoric. They need to stop buying the tea and start facing reality and come up to the 21st century!

    May 9, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. goblackhawks

    Yet under Obama Unemployment is up .. Buying of Houses is down ... way to go ... But I got me Free Obama phone .... Sad country we live in

    May 9, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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