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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Demographics of 2016 Turnout

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the demographics of the 2016 election.  Karlyn Bowman and Eleanor O'Neil write at AEI:
Many analysts predicted that minorities would represent a larger share of the electorate in 2016 than in 2012. They did not. Taken together, Hispanics, blacks, and people of other races made up virtually identical shares of the vote in 2016 (26.6 percent) and 2012 (26.2 percent).
The long-awaited surge in Hispanic turnout did not occur in 2016. Hispanics were a larger share of voters in 2016 (9.2 percent) than in 2012 (8.4 percent), but their rate of voting was essentially flat, 48 percent in 2012 and 47.6 percent in 2016. In another interesting note on the data, the Pew Research Center reported that the number of eligible Hispanic non-voters was higher than the number of eligible Hispanic voters, as has been the case in presidential elections since 1996. Hispanics’ electoral clout does not yet match their demographic weight. Hispanics tilt toward Democrats, giving about two-thirds of their votes to them in recent years.
Since 1996, when 53 percent of blacks reported voting, black turnout rose with every national election, reaching its high point in 2012, when 66.6 percent of blacks voted. That year, the rate of voting by blacks was higher than the rate of voting by whites for the first time in the data series. Many expected that black turnout would continue its steady increase of the past two decades. In 2016, however, black voter turnout declined to 59.6 percent, significantly below its record high and below the white rate (65.3 percent). The group is one of the few monolithic bloc votes in American politics, tilting overwhelmingly toward Democrats.
Finally, the white share of the electorate did not decline as it has in most recent presidential contests. As the Census noted, “[F]or the most part, from 1980 to 2012, the share of reported voters who were non-Hispanic white decreased from one election to another.” In 1980, 87.6 percent of voters were white; in 2012; 73.7 percent were. And, in 2016, their share was 73.3 percent. White voter turnout increased from 64.1 to 65.3, again defying the predictions of some.