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. Anonymous

    MLK would be SO proud!!!

    May 9, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. just askin

    Congrats to all the blacks who came out to vote solely on skin color. That will surely keep America strong and competitive in the future. How's that 24% unemployment working for you?

    what makes you think they want a job instead of all the government freebies? now they will be getting free healthcare with obamacare. the freebies just keep rolling in as long as they vote for democrats. why would they vote to stop the freebies? now please just get back to work to pay for it. maybe you can take on a second or third job to support all the free riders as well as your family?

    May 9, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. ST

    Now wait to see who will break the record in 2016 incase Hillary runs. It will be women.

    May 9, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. Old white conservative strait male

    I guess that means that 7% of African-Americans, 29% of Hispanics and 27% of Asians actually new the state of what our county was in.

    May 9, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. Frank

    The blacks that voted Marion Barry back into office. Thats says it all.

    May 9, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    If you think the black vote was big in 2012, just wait till 2016 when Hillary Clinton makes history by taking all 50 states. Sorry Mr. Issa, your Benghazi obsession won't affect Mrs. Clinton's WH bid.

    May 9, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. Stupidity_Not_Ignorance

    This racist garbage that seems to flood these comments are ridiculous. The assumption that Blacks only voted because Obama's father is black is stupid. Prior to 2008 every election blacks voted for whites. But now the verdict is blacks are stupid because we happened to have a candidate that looks different. Truth be told it's not the president who is causing the bs. It's the good ole boys club of the republican party (how many blacks are in there again?) that have cause this mess. At leave the president comes up with plans and runs with it. If decisions were wrong so be it we can fit it but doing nothing at all is weak.

    May 9, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. Robert

    @Brian Let's not forget to mention all the whites that came out to vote for Romney ONLY because he was white.

    May 9, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. daboys777

    I'm glad to see minorities engaged in our system again. I know that the previous administration made them feel disenfranchised. I hope that they will continue to stay engaged in the next election and that the numbers will be even higher for the percentage that vote despite the GOP's attempts to take things back to the Jim Crowe days.

    May 9, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  10. Data Driven

    Nation's Whites 'Deeply Troubled' by Nation's Blacks Participating in Democracy"

    Not an Onion article, as this thread demonstrates.

    May 9, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. chris

    soooooooo many ugly racist bitter white posters, they will throw their insults around at everyone instead of seeing that they are the cause of the gop demise. we are ALL tired and done with the racist ilk that continue to try to make themselves the uber-americans in the land... bye bye now. we'll fix the disaster you work so hard to make since you can't have you way, we'll make the promise of america real while you take your toys out of the sandbox because you can't keep minorities down...

    May 9, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. chaki36

    Blacks did not vote for Obama because he is black. I am so tired of hearing this. Blacks voted for Obama because he was black and democrat. Put it to the test. If he was a black republican, they would not have voted for him. Stop trying to simplify this to a matter of color. This has a lot to do with how republicans speak to minority group; if they speak to them at all. We have our own issues. Some are the same as most Americans, but some are not. When black American look at the republican party they are not speaking to their issues. So if you want to say that blacks voted for Obama because he is a democrat you are correct. If you want to say blacks showed up in record numbers because he is black, that to is correct. They did not soley vote for Obama because he is black.

    May 9, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. Jeff E.

    While it's heartening to know that they were so involved in the political process, I hope they can carry that momentum and be involved when it comes to voting for someone who is not black.

    May 9, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  14. vj

    the number of blacks voting FOR Obama because of his race is far outnumbered by the number of whites voting AGAINST Obama because of his race

    May 9, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  15. Shay

    These comments are so telling of the American psyche. Black people get accused of voting for Obama just because he's Black. Well, does that mean white people voted for the previous 43 presidents only because they were white?
    Other people have also said Black people don't know what they're voting for. So again, does that mean in regards to the previous 43 presidents, white people didn't know what they were voting for as well? It must because look at the way this nation has turned out. Whose fault would that be exactly?

    So basically, if we're blaming the status of things right now based on voting, we'd have to apply that to every other election, correct? And in every other election white votes outpaced Black votes according to the article correct? So, essentially, it's the fault of whites that this country is where it is, right? After all, the voting done for the past 43 presidents eventually led to the voting of this one and even in his first election, white voting still outpaced Black voting. (This is the type of logic we're working with right?)

    So, dang, white people messed it up for everybody!

    -White privilege is a tool of the ignorant and delusional-

    May 9, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  16. Jay

    64%, 64%....both numbers are embarrasing low if you as me.

    May 9, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. disgustedvet

    Anti-White vote. We build a Nation from nothing and now they are talking it from us in the voting booths.

    May 9, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  18. Alfred E Newman

    Blacks voted for a black candidate not because he was the better choice but because of his race. Only shows that blacks are more racist than whites.

    May 9, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. bckerr

    What people still fail to realize is that 66% of 13% of the total population (roughly 39 million) that voted comes to roughly 26 million black people who voted. As opposed to 72% of total population (224 million) who's vote was 64% that comes to 143.5 million whites that voted roughly. So by percent wise, yes, more blacks voted, but size wise, more whites voted simply because there are more. That's a sad day when people don't vote, you don't vote, you don't get to complain or have and say.

    May 9, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. Anonymous

    The comments section here is despicable. Most of these commenters are terrible people.

    Ireuel: I'd like to see your sources for your claims of voter fraud. The only credibly sourced instances of fraud that I can find are several where Republican poll workers were caught red-handed throwing out ballots.

    As far as ballot-access in Indiana goes, it's an all or nothing thing. There's no way under Indiana's state law that a candidate could have failed to qualify for ballot acces in just "one county". One of the methods for a party to qualify for state ballot access there is to field a candidate in a recent state-level Secretary of State election and receive at least 2 percent of the vote. This guarantees that the Republican and Democratic party get to field candidates every election, while unfairly shutting out third party candidates with the high entry bar.

    It's pretty clear that you're one of many politically illiterate people who is capable of no discussion other than to regurgitate the venom you've been fed by talk radio.

    May 9, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  21. jerpell

    So that's why this country is in this mess.......

    May 9, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. AndrewA

    This article is mixing different statistics measurements to push a "white getting outvoted" narrative. While the percent of African Americans that voted has increased to a level beyond that of the percent of white people who voted. Make no mistake, the sheer number (not as a percent) of white people who voted far out numbers the African American vote.

    Furthermore, while the number of Latino votes went up; the actual percent of the total eligible Latino population that voted went down. This is something the article fails to mention.

    Are the demographics in America changing? You betcha, but this article is cherry picking information to "prove" that. I dislike the whole us and them tone. What percentage of the white population voted democrat? The article doesn't say, but does point out the break down of all other major ethnic groups. This leads me to speculate the percent not reported, didn't "jive" with the article narrative.

    May 9, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  23. Larry in Houston

    IF Hillary runs – there will be 2 "records" broke – The "women" vote – AND The "black" Vote.

    May 9, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. chris

    This just goes to show you that Obama wasn't reelected for his credibility. I can promise you that this statistic will go back to the norm if an African American does not run in 2016. Obama said this election was not about race, it was very much about race. And I guess that all his and Biden's "they want to put you back in chains" talk was really the driver behind his success. Why? Because Obama uses social demographics to divide our nation. Like making elections about race, turning the poor on the rich, and being an all around troublemaker! United we stand, divided we fall! Thanks again Obama for dividing this country and making us weaker.

    May 9, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. medalion

    Just askin –
    Keep it up, and you will guarantee they keep voting democrat with your racial diatribe.

    May 9, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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