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. Libdumb

    And the media continues the racial divide.

    May 9, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. Franky

    you know what this means, it means that 7x's as many whites voted in this election than blacks. There are about 200 million whites in this country , there about 35 million blacks. this isn't registered voters but the number should be similar, actually, the number of registered voters is a higher rate among whites to begin with. But let's just go with the simple numbers, 65% of whites voting is 130 million whites voting, and 66% of blacks voting is 24 million blacks voting. While the voting block of blacks is a large minority, it's still 7x's smaller than the voting block of wites, for all intents and purposes, whites determine who wins elections, period.

    May 9, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Libdumb

    Why does the media continue to divide the Country?

    May 9, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. mightylou

    Why do you think the Republicans are still trying to shrink the electorate, they cannot win elections based on their far right policies,proposals and laws, so they create false issues like voter fraud knowing that is a lie and their solution via voter id laws that have negative impacts on minorities is seeking a problem. Why do you think that Alabama took the Voting Rights bill to the Supreme Court, so they again water down the right for minoriies old & young people to vote.

    May 9, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. reese

    I think we all know why the high number of blacks voted in 2012 and let me just point out that Romney could have promised each black voter in this country a new car and they wouldn't have voted for him. Obama means nothing to these people, just the color of his skin...and I really don't blame them for feeling that way. I just hope we all got it out of our system now and if you learned anything about parties, that the next election is based on the party that best represents your needs/wants and for a lot of black folks they are conservatives they just don't know enough about either party to understand that yet.

    May 9, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. bigstrike

    Anything less than the redistribution of wealth is racist. We are fast forwarding to mediocrity in the name of political and social fairness. It's a slow but deliberate process evidenced by the lowering bar in education and rising crime.

    May 9, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Republicans talk about machine-gunning immigrants trying to cross the border and they can't understand how they lost the Hispanic vote. Republicans launch a war to stop voting by blacks with voter id laws which were and are not needed to stop "fraud", and even cancelling days of the week before a vote aimed to black voters, and they don't do well. Republicans want to redo educational materials to teach that the world is 6,000 years old and that Jesus used to ride a dinasaur to church and they can't understand why education obsessed Asian cultures think that the republicans are DNA-impaired morons. I think this sums the situation up.

    May 9, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. ritmocojo

    And now white Repubicans are going to make sure it never happens again and will use whatever means to accomplish that. Legal or not.

    May 9, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. bigstrike

    Anything less than the redistribution of wealth is racist. We are fast forwarding to mediocrity in the name of political and social fairness. It's a slow but deliberate process evidenced by the lowering bar in education and rising crime

    May 9, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. lenny

    no one votes according to the color of a person's skin more than blacks do, so this comes as no shock at all. The Messiah could have been a mass murderer, he was still winning 90+% of the black vote.

    May 9, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Uri Nation

    We are suppose to be an integrated society, and yet aticles like this continue to segregate. Why not simply state how many/percentages of total registered citizens voted.

    May 9, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. rosie

    So what? If you are too lazy to vote then do not complain.

    May 9, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. kylefromohio

    And in case that is confusing, of the 64.1 percent of the white vote 39% vote against the Repubs. Which means the latino and black vote support the 39% of whites who said no to the Right wing agenda

    May 9, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. us_1776

    If it weren't for blacks there would be no United States of America.

    They were the backbone of the economy in our country's early days.

    An economy that relied upon human exploitation until it was outlawed in 1865.

    It's good to see that blacks are claiming their heritiage to their share of this country.

    And there is no better way to do that than at the voting booth.


    May 9, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. mb

    The only problem I see with this news article is the massive voter fraud that's been uncovered. How many minorities were counted that voted numerous times? Is this a quantified return, or speculation based on raw vote count.
    Sorry, but have lost all faith in the democratic process. Unless and until we enforce rules surrounding voting and return to counting every vote, the system is flawed.

    May 9, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  16. Texas Mark

    So, how soon before we hear the outrage from the left about white voter suppression? I can't hear you ...

    May 9, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. marc

    What does race have to do with people voting? It only seems to matter to Republicans.....

    May 9, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. MAC

    How many of them voted multiple times like the black woman poll worker in CInncinnati who got away with her vote counting 6 times for Obama? Maybe CNN could update America on what happened to her or did she get a Presidential Pardon?

    May 9, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. marty

    Only those who did not vote have a right to complain. Everyone partaking in the process approves of the outcome.

    May 9, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. sly

    How many blacks voted multiple times?
    Case in Point: White boy with panties in bun. Nothin' funnier.

    May 9, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  21. Honest

    Census Bureau: when are you going to stop studying, segregating people by the color of their skin? I tired of being looked at as a statistic. It helps no one except those who promote segregation and racism. Next time someone asks for your race, under the “other” option, write: HUMAN BEING!

    May 9, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. JoeB

    If you Republicans could propose valid jobs and education fixes, two of the top root causes of crime where most minorities reside, and stick with it you could take the next elections including the 2016 elections. Instead, the GOP continues to stick to the underlying beliefs that Blacks are lazy and shiftless and only voted for Obama because they're racist and want a handout. The Democrats are ripe for a shakeup with their rabid anti-gun and pro government control agendas but you can't seem to get over your own greed and racist propaganda.

    May 9, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  23. BIG WILL

    If you say that Blacks voted for Obama because he is black, then you have to say that alot of Whites voted for Romney because he is white. So, can we say that majority of whites have never voted for anyone black, even when they know that the white politican was a crook. Oh yes we can!!!! hipocrites.....

    May 9, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. Peoples Statue of Illinois


    Only those who did not vote have a right to complain. Everyone partaking in the process approves of the outcome.
    I think you have that a little backwards.

    May 9, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. BigBearCarolina

    What a strange phenomenon. Has anyone made an attempt to try and figure out why this may have happened?

    May 9, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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