Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blacks Voted At A Higher Rate Than Whites In 2012. #WhoKnew?

While the media obessed over the ramifications of the GOP losing the Latino vote by astounding margins in November 2012, one completely overlooked sidebar was the fact that President Obama actually got a smaller percentage (93% vs 95%) that he did in the 2008 election. I assumed this was mostly due to the GOP's "street money" campaign of flooding black churches with money to influence anti-gay marriage votes like the ones that helped President Bush in 2004. One thing I didn't really think about was whether black voters turned out at 2008 levels. Again, so much media attention was focused on the Latino vote, we were mostly an afterthough.

Wouldn't you know it, a deep dive into the numbers unearthed a very interesting nugget: black folks not only voted at a historically high clip, they actually voted at a higher rates than whites for the first time ever.
America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, analyzed the 2012 elections for the AP using census data on eligible voters and turnout, along with November’s exit polling. He estimated total votes for Obama and Romney under a scenario where 2012 turnout rates for all racial groups matched those in 2004. Overall, 2012 voter turnout was roughly 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.

Overall, the findings represent a tipping point for blacks, who for much of America’s history were disenfranchised and then effectively barred from voting until passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

But the numbers also offer a cautionary note to both Democrats and Republicans after Obama won in November with a historically low percentage of white supporters. While Latinos are now the biggest driver of U.S. population growth, they still trail whites and blacks in turnout and electoral share, because many of the Hispanics in the country are children or noncitizens.

In recent weeks, Republican leaders have urged a “year-round effort” to engage black and other minority voters, describing a grim future if their party does not expand its core support beyond white males.

The 2012 data suggest Romney was a particularly weak GOP candidate, unable to motivate white voters let alone attract significant black or Latino support. Obama’s personal appeal and the slowly improving economy helped overcome doubts and spur record levels of minority voters in a way that may not be easily replicated for Democrats soon.

Romney would have erased Obama’s nearly 5 million-vote victory margin and narrowly won the popular vote if voters had turned out as they did in 2004, according to Frey’s analysis. Then, white turnout was slightly higher and black voting lower.

Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.
I've got a bone to pick with that last line, specifically this part.

"Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws "

Uh, isn't it entirely possible that the high black turnout was because of those voter ID laws? People could clearly see a coordinated (and in some cases blatantly bragged about!) effort to make it harder for them vote. Much like an agitated hornets nest, black folks got pissed and showed up at the polls to voice their displeasure. The GOP's subsequent "autopsy" didn't even mention the effects of these laws, which shows they've learned nothing.

There is, of course, a flip side of this good news that hopefully has the Democrats humbled: there won't be an Obama on the ticket next year, or in 2016. There probably will be more voter identification laws, however, so maybe that'll keep us heading to the polls. Go figure.

Either way, take a bow Black folks. We did it, what ever "it" is. Lets just not forget to do it when there isn't a guy who looks like us on the ballot.

Question: What do you think about these findings?

blog comments powered by Disqus

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.