Voting rights are under attack in the Supreme Court and in several Republican-controlled state legislatures. Some politicians and political appointments – including Justice Antonin Scalia – consider central provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 “racial entitlements” and are attempting to pass bills interceding on African-American voting power. Purposeful attacks against communities of color fueled polling numbers in 2012.
The Associated Press examined census data from the 2012 election and found African-Americans “voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time.”
I’m resisting the urge to run in circles screaming “Who gon’ check us boo?” I digress.
The Associate Press’ report also found that African-Americans were crucial in re-electing President Obama. Mitt Romney would’ve won by a narrow margin if we didn’t come to the polls in historic numbers. Romney would’ve significantly decreased Obama’s 5-million vote majority if the exit-poll numbers mirrored the 2004 election when more whites voted than blacks.
Other interesting tidbits from the report include:
- Romney is unpopular. The report suggests Romney was a weak candidate who couldn’t appeal to ideologues in the Republican Party or blacks and Latinos. Lauren Howie, 27, told the Associated Press she wasn’t impressed with Obama, but she couldn’t support Romney either. “I got the feeling Mitt Romney couldn’t care less about me and my fellow African-Americans,” Howie said. “A white Mormon swimming in money with offshore accounts buying up companies and laying off their employees just doesn’t quite fit my idea of a president,” she continued. “Bottom line, Romney was not someone I was willing to trust with my future.”
- The Latino vote matters. By 2026, the Latino community will have 16 percent of the total voting population. This number may fluctuate depending on current and future immigration policies.
- The “Obama” effect is real. “The 2012 turnout is a milestone for blacks and a huge potential turning point,” said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University 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.”
William H. Frey, the researcher who studied the elections for the Associated Press, sees these trends as a victory for Democrats. “The 2008 election was the first year when the minority vote was important to electing a U.S. president. By 2024, their vote will be essential to victory,” he said. “Democrats will be looking at a landslide going into 2028 if the new Hispanic voters continue to favor Democrats.”
Republicans also see the potential to secure a new voting population, but realize the battle is uphill. Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant of Sen. Marco Rubio, told the Associated Press the Republican Party needs “a new message, a new messenger and a new tone.” However, Democrats shouldn’t sit on their laurels hoping minorities will secure their future victories.
“It remains to be seen how successful Democrats are if you don’t have Barack Obama at the top of the ticket,” he said.