In a first, black voter turnout surpassed white turnout in 2012
High black voter turnout, plus a lower turnout from white voters, gave President Obama the edge in swing states and a victory in 2012, signaling the importance of minority voters going forward.
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Black voters accounted 13 percent of the total votes cast in 2012, a repeat of 2008 – the first election in which their share of the total vote was larger than their share of the total population. States with significant black populations did not have as much of a decline in voter turnout as other states, said Michael McDonald, an associate professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who reviewed the analysis.Skip to next paragraph
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“The 2012 turnout is a milestone for blacks and a huge potential turning point,” Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University who has written extensively on black politicians, told the Associated Press. “What it suggests is that there is an 'Obama effect' where people were motivated to support Barack Obama. But it also means that black turnout may not always be higher, if future races aren't as salient.”
NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said that blacks turned out in large numbers due to Mr. Obama’s concentrated get-out-the-vote drive, and in spite of controversial voter ID laws that some experts say deters minorities from voting.
"Black turnout set records this year despite record attempts to suppress the black vote," Mr. Jealous said.
Minority demographics seem to favor Democrats – Obama won 93 percent of blacks, 71 percent of Hispanics, and 73 percent of Asians, the Monitor reported in November – a fact that is forcing Republicans to reevaluate their political strategies.
Although Latinos, at 17 percent of the population, are the fastest growing minority group in the US, they represent only 10 percent of the total votes cast in 2012. If 11 million immigrants here illegally become eligible for US citizenship – as they could under the proposed Senate immigration reform bill – the total share of Latino voters could spike to 16 percent by 2026.
“Democrats will be looking at a landslide going into 2028 if the new Hispanic voters continue to favor Democrats,” Frey said.
The last election showed that the Republican Party needs “a new message, a new messenger and a new tone,” said Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant who advises Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida, a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
That's one reason some Republicans are eager to back some form of immigration reform, which could earn the support of minority votes, Mr. Ayres said.
• Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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