Brookings Institution scholars are reporting that African Americans turned out to vote at a higher rate than white voters last November. Brookings demographer William H. Frey analyzed 2012 census election data, along with Pew Research Center numbers, and found that black voters turned out at a higher rate than any other race, which was consistent with similar findings by Pew in December. Back then it was also estimated that black voters turned out at a higher rate than white voters, but Frey’s analysis finally confirms that conclusion.
The Associated Press, for whom the analysis was commissioned, reports that the finding reflects “a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.”
One key downer from the report is that overall turnout rates have steadily decreased: 58 percent voter turnout in 2012 compared with 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.
Still, the milestone for African American voters is particularly significant given that they overcame many threats to the ballot franchise — namely voter ID laws and the attacks on early voting — in order to reach this peak in turnout.
“Black turnout set records this year despite record attempts to suppress the black vote,” said NAACP president Ben Jealous in an interview with AP. He also told them that the upcoming 2014 midterm elections will be “the real bellwether” for black turnout.