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. nadinesh

    @GatesBill: Well duh. Isn't that what the article says? I can't believe how slow some of you are.

    May 9, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. American Citizen

    Black voters didn't vote for Obama just because he's black??? I'm just curious- did Gore or Kerry get 93% of the black vote?? Call it whatever you like, but Obama's vision of creating a welfare state, squelching a meritocracy, treating ALL wealthy people like the bad guys, de-emphasizing our need to be peaceMAKERS in the world, and basically showing his contempt for all traditional American values isn't where I want to see America go. History will not judge Barry Soetoro kindly, I can guarantee it. He represents the decay of the foundational values & beliefs of this country that made it one of the great civilizations in history.

    May 9, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. Pantz

    Statistically speaking, this will become the new normal. By 2050 (give or take) the plain white american will become the overall minority as African-American, Asian and Latino populations grow. The general make-up of our country is changing, which will ultimately be for the better. The Republican party is a dysfunctional mess that is getting pushed around by a few ultraconservative Tea Party politicians. Right or wrong, the continued gridlock in government will benefit the more moderate and liberal democrats in the next round of elections if people don't soon start to cooperate. Not to mention, the Republican message to middle and poor America is..."The rich are elite and are entitled to keep their money. You can't have an abortion and no, we won't support social welfare programs to help you raise your child – because we think you're a freeloaded. But, we do want you to have a gun." Should it surprise you that they voted for Obama..?

    May 9, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Bryce

    Americans out voted Republicans in 2012.

    May 9, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Frank

    Hilary Clinton could bomb the White House and the Washington Monument and every women and liberal in America would still vote for her.


    May 9, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. mrjackson777

    America is changing very fast. The positon of power used to be Male, White, 30-50 years of age. Who's the new most pwerfull group now?

    May 9, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. DB

    I find it most interesting to hear that the key states that won President Obama a second term had such high turnouts for voters. The only problem I can see is that Republican poll monitors were forced out by threats as each polling area continued to rack up 150% of the registered voters and 100% of those votes were all Democratic. How is this possible? Logic would tell you that massive voter fraud took place, much like the ACORN actions in the first election that put President Obama in office. I doubt very seriously if we will ever see another Republican President be elected to office since the Democrat learned their lessons and how to appeal to those that can carry a vote either legal or not. The only way to make the political field level again is to have every eligible voter become registered and have then present a voters card with a government issued ID with photo, have them only vote in their voting poll and have non-identified party monitors watch each poll for irregularities. The penalty for being a violator of rules would be that poll is disqualified from having their votes count in that election. Elections are not a game of who can cheat the most, which party can give to who, it is about representation within our government. Majority of the votes should be the winner, even the electorial college is out dated in this time of instant communication. To continue down the road we are presently on will ultimately cause a collapse of our nation and then everyone loses.

    May 9, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. magnum12

    According to CNN exit polls, 93% of African-Americans, 71% of Hispanics and 73% of Asians supported Obama over Romney. Those numbers add up to 47%.

    May 9, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. TinKnight

    While this is positive news, to be sure, I think the headline is misleading, and the article itself loses its path.

    A greater percentage of blacks voted than whites, yes...but there were still something like 3 times the number of whites that voted, due to the greater numbers.

    Also, the bit about the other minorities seems to tell the story in a different direction and doesn't really stick to the says that they had more people, but it doesn't say how that population growth from 2008 to 2012 affected the results because it doesn't show how many of those voters showed up, or how their population growth compared with whites. It does show the difference from 1996...but that's 16 years, and doesn't stick to the same timeframe as the rest of the story.

    May 9, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. Barry Biden

    Duh, the only reason is that a black man was running for president, ask THOISE voters, like Howard Stearn did, what they think of Obama choosing Sarah Palin as his VP. They will all say "it was great idea"

    May 9, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. bob

    Why is this news? Obama was elected by a racist vote. If he wasn't black he would not have been elected. I have no problem with a black, yellow, green, orange or whatever other color/race/gender you can come up with. But no one should be president because they are a certain thing except a great leader which he is not. He is our worst president ever. He has divided the country, racked up more debt then all the previous presidents combined, gotten diplomats and border agents killed for his own political purposes. on top of that he has tarnished our image around the world so much that we may never regain the respect we had under Reagan, Clinton and Bush.

    May 9, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. nadinesh

    @dumb: Blacks are actually currently 12.5% of the population; Hispanics are about 16%.

    May 9, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. Data Driven

    Wow, it's becoming Aryan Nation in here. I'd recommend closing the comments.

    May 9, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota


    Yeah, and there was no white people that voted for Romney because he was white....naaaah.

    Yeah. And CNN got what it wanted in publishing this article.

    May 9, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. Chris

    100% of the people in my apartment voted, therefore my apartment outvoted blacks in 2012.

    May 9, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Sigh

    I'd be happy and impressed if it weren't obvious that the reason the turnout was so high was because the candidate was black. Not to say Obama wasn't the better choice, but I can't be impressed that blacks turned out en masse to vote because they wanted the black guy to win.

    May 9, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. nadinesh

    @Barry Biden: No question the TURNOUT

    May 9, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Peoples State of Illinois

    @Wake up People!

    I'm not sure what Fox-lite had in mind with this story but it seems like the only posts being published are the bigoted ones.

    First of all, no one voted multiple times. That is a bare faced lie. I tested your theory. I took a friend to vote at my former voting location. I knew the poll workers because they worked them for years. One was even my nephew's grandmother. I asked if I could vote there. They checked the register and my name wasn't in it. They informed me I couldn't vote there but had to go to my new location. I saw lines of people waiting to vote. So that's another lie that we didn't actually vote.
    That's why the black lady in ohio was prosecuted for voting 6 times, or is that part of your "no one voted multiple times?"

    Since this proves your lie, CNN probably won't post it.

    May 9, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. gotdayumit

    There are also twice as many blacks in the US than there are whites....they like on census reports and most blacks never send in their census filing reports anyway...Too cheap to buy a stamp!!!

    May 9, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. EVN

    Looks like the end of the GOP. Hip Hip Hoohray!

    May 9, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. nadinesh

    @Barry Biden: No question the TURNOUT was improved because of Obama's Black father. I say, Bravo!!! It's not like there have been a lot of other candidates of African-American heritage! It's clearly sending Americans with a conscience and brain a message: More. Black. Candidates.

    May 9, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. Bryce

    @American Citizen: You are assuming that black voter's base their opinions on whether they are black or republican putting emphasis on the former. This is a stupid stereotype and a foolish move by voters to 'auto' vote for a single party or race regardless of their qualities. I'm going to have to hope this is not the majority.

    Our Nation was not founded on the principle of being 'peacemakers'. It is not our responsibility to baby sit the entire world and it is this policy of open interaction with the conflicts of the rest of the world that has brought on our downfall; not any one particular president or congressman. We were a powerful country right up until we broke our policy of isolation and anti-war and made a shit load of enemies in the name of a few allies which are barely beneficial to us to even have. (With the exception of United Kingdom and South Korea).

    May 9, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |

    TSK TSK TSK, poor GOP denial in effect.

    May 9, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. nadinesh

    And I'll say something else: those African-American voters had great taste. Obama's the first honest man we've had as President in many decades. Also by far the most intelligent. I think he's spectacular. Hail to the Chief!!

    May 9, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  25. dr. Sikes

    Well, THIS white guy hopes that blacks continue to vote in record numbers– As legendary conservative white politician Barry Goldwater once said: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." So extremism in protection of voter rights is no vice either....

    May 9, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
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