Whether they realized it might have been their last opportunity to vote for a viable black presidential candidate or were angered by thinly veiled voter suppression tactics, African American voters showed up and showed out at the polls in 2012.
According a report by The Associated Press, blacks voted at higher rates than whites for the first time in history, based on analysis of new census data. What’s more? Despite an increasing white population, the number of white voters declined for the first time since 1996.
Here’s the numbers: Census data shows about 66.2 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots in 2012. That’s up from 64.7 percent in 2008. The non-Hispanic white turnout was 64.1 percent in 2012 and fell from 66.1 percent four years earlier.
A not-so-bright spot in the new turnout data confirms youth engagement fizzled last year. About 41 percent of voters 18-24 cast ballots in 2012, down 7 percent from 2008. The drop was big for both black and white young voters.
Voter turnout experts herald the overall picture as good for Democrats, with some reservations.
“Obama’s win in 2012, despite the important Democratic constituency of young voters not participating at a high level, is good news,” Michael McDonald, a George Mason University professor, told the AP. “The bad news is that voting is a habit — and the fact that we saw turnout declines among younger African-Americans suggests Democrats will have to work even harder to excite these voters in future elections.”