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. cysimon

    Stop all the LIES! Voting is controlled by the STATES....not by Eric Holder. As hellbent on denying Black people to vote as Florida is, if there was 128% voting in any area it was a WHITE AREA!!!

    May 9, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. Emintey

    If republicans want black and minority votes the answer is simple, pursue policies that appeal to blacks and minorities. The phenomenon of blacks and minorities overwhelmingly voting for democrats did not start with Obama, It has been, since the time of Nixon deliberate republican strategy to pursue disaffected white votes at the expense of black votes. Quit your whining. ye reap as ye sow.

    May 9, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    b/c most blacks are incredibly racist.

    May 9, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Emma

    Of course they outvoted whites. In some cases, they voted 3 or 4 times.

    May 9, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. Patrick in Wisconsin

    People's state of Illinois, prove it. You won't. You can't. You lie. After all, Obama won by almost 4%. There is NO WAY Romney could've one that night even if what you said were true.

    May 9, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Voting is fine, but vote for your desired party, not because of race.

    May 9, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    There are certainly black Republicans, but there has not yet been a black Republican presidential nominee or even one who got close to the nomination, whereas as far back as 1988 Jesse Jackson did pretty well in the Democratic primaries. When the Republican candidate for president is black, then I will say that we are truly beyond race.

    May 9, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. CB

    why do stupid people always seem to sign as "anonymous"

    May 9, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Anonymous


    The fact that blacks vote primarily democratic is fine, but why was there such an increase in black voters for the 2012 election? I call racism.

    May 9, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. Emma

    They votes 3 or 4 times in some cases. LOL

    May 9, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. sly

    Ho ho ho ... gotta laugh at all the outrage white boys on here with their panties all in a bun.

    Y'all can move to some more white land – the South Pole sounds appropriate.

    This land is OUR land now. God Bless America, and God Bless the great President Obama, Leader of the Free World.

    May 9, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Alex H

    People need to stop calling racism just because 95% of blacks voted for Obama. Guess what, >90% of blacks also voted for Gore. Republicans have lost the black vote with policy, not with skin colour.

    May 9, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. anonymo

    who cares, how many whites are in the electoral college?

    May 9, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. Emintey


    Think about it. Suppose your race had been brought to this country in chains and held in slavery and then once freed suffered horrific discrimiantion, then for the first time one of your race is presidential candidate in the party of your choice, dont you think you'd run to the polls? frankly, I find the inability to comprehend that to be ethnocentric (self-centered).

    May 9, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Sean

    I think everyone that is saying that blacks are racist are simply projecting. The accusers are the ones with the true racist outlook.

    May 9, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. milw man

    people always want to bring up about how many black people voted for Obama black people vote for whichever Democrat it is black or white

    May 9, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Wake up People!

    What about the huge percentage of WHITES, that didn't even like Willard, yet they voted for him simply because he had white skin. Where's THAT poll Fox-lite???

    May 9, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. woody

    My god get over it..... I would think there is better things to report on.

    May 9, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. FredIT!

    It could be that the blacks aren't racist...Maybe they didn't vote for Romney because they aren't dumb enough to vote for racist POLICY...

    ps poor grammar in article

    May 9, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. nk

    why is it offensive? Because they used solid statistics to tell us basically what we already knew?

    May 9, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. BD70

    Why is this poll necessary?

    May 9, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The baiters, though? Shrugging my shoulders. I think we all know their game plan
    That we do Lynda, indeed we do.
    Somebody wrote that this article was written to divide us. They are right. It appears that especially since THIS President, who has worked tirelessly and successfully through word and example to unite us in eloquent diginity, teaching us to express our disagreements through the power of our vote, since his election there has been a concerted effort to sell hate, and everybody is trying to cash in on. So-called news outlets, magazines, tv, books, you name it.
    Everybody is cashing in on the Black man -bluntly put. And they are not doing it in a way that unites us but in a way that divides. And nobody seems to give a good gosh darn that it is their greed tearing up the country. Not him.

    May 9, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. Mike

    Who cares what color you are when it comes to voting. Time to get off the race trip and report real news

    May 9, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. Steve

    And here ncomes the racist comments.

    May 9, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. Ridge

    Yeah, well that was pretty obvious.

    May 9, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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