What do the 1972 and 2012 presidential elections have in common?
Both years mark extremes in black voter turnout. In 1972, merely half of the nation’s 22 million African-Americans voted, the lowest percentage ever recorded. Forty years later, however, measurements of black turnout tell a different story – by a slim 66 to 64% margin, black Americans outvoted their white counterparts for the first time in history.
That’s according to a Census Bureau report released earlier this week, which you can read here. The Bureau’s report is another piece of evidence that supports the claim of shifting voting patterns in America. Thom File, who wrote the report, remarked pointedly that “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.”
The data he collected obviously supports his statement. From CNN:
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.
According to CNN exit polls, 93% of African-Americans, 71% of Hispanics and 73% of Asians supported Obama over Romney.
So why was minority turnout so high? A minority president is clearly one factor (since most minorities voted for him), though probably not as big a factor as some might want to think. Anger over voter ID laws (which some say unfairly impact minorities) may also have played a role. Finally, a changing outlook on the process of voting (from a right to a responsibility) might be at work as well.
Did you vote in the 2012 election? Why or why not? Can you think of any other factors I might be missing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.