Who Voted in 2016?

Article subtitle: 
Analysis Shows Black Turnout Down, No Hispanic Surge
Article publisher: 
Center for Immigration Studies
Article date: 
6 June 2017
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

A new analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies examines the demographics of those who voted in the 2016 presidential election. Newly released Census Bureau data from November 2016 show a significant decline in the black turnout rate compared to 2012, a lack of change in the Hispanic turnout rate, and no national surge in white turnout, including among those without a college degree. These same national patterns also generally hold for battleground states and in the six states that flipped from supporting Obama in 2012 to supporting Trump in 2016, with some exceptions.
View the entire analysis.
Dr. Steven Camarota, the Center’s director of research and author of the report, stated, “Census data shows the great diversity of the American electorate. But the voter turnout among the African American, Hispanic, and immigrant populations that were predicted as a reaction to Trump’s policy positions did not materialize.”
Among the findings:

  • The share of eligible black Americans who voted (the turnout rate) declined significantly, from 67 percent to 60 percent between 2012 and 2016. The 2016 rate matches the rate from 2004. As a share of all voters, blacks declined from 13 percent to 12 percent nationally.
  • The share of eligible Hispanics who voted held almost constant at 47.6 percent in 2016, compared to 48 percent in 2012. Reflecting the long-term impact of prior immigration and above-replacement-level fertility, the total number of Hispanic voters continued its slow, steady increase — from 7 percent in 2008, to 8 percent in 2012, to 9 percent of the total electorate in 2016. 
  • The share of eligible immigrants (naturalized U.S. citizens) who voted held roughly constant at 54 percent between 2012 and 2016. Like the figures for all eligible Hispanics (native and foreign-born) reported above, there is no evidence that Trump’s positions increased or decreased immigrant turnout rates. 
  • In 2016, 65 percent of eligible whites voted; a slight increase from the 64 percent in 2012. This compares to 66 percent in 2008 and 67 percent in 2004.
  • Due to prior immigration policies and relatively low fertility, whites are a declining share of the national electorate. However their share declined by just 0.4 percentage points between 2012 and 2016. This compares to a 2.5 percentage-point decline in their share of the total vote between 2008 and 2012 and a 2.9 percentage-point decline between 2004 and 2008.
  • The slight increase in the share of eligible whites who voted and the large decline in black turnout partly explain why the white share of the national electorate did not decline as it had in prior elections, even though the Hispanic share continued its slow, steady increase in 2016. 
  • In the six states that “flipped” from supporting Obama in 2012 to supporting Trump in 2016 (Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin), the pattern of black decline and white stability generally holds; however in Florida, the largest of these states, the Hispanic turnout rate declined. 
  • In Ohio, the turnout rate among eligible whites increased 2.5 percentage points from 2012 to 2016. As a share of all voters, whites in the state may have actually increased slightly. 
  • The turnout rate of blacks declined somewhat more dramatically in Ohio than in the nation as a whole — from 73 percent in 2012 to just 65 percent in 2016. As a result, their share of the Ohio electorate also may have fallen slightly. 
  • In contrast to the country as a whole, in Florida Hispanic turnout fell from 62 percent in 2012 to 54 percent in 2016.
  • In contrast to blacks and Hispanics in Florida, white turnout in the state rose slightly, from 62 percent in 2012 to 64 percent in 2016, and their share of the total electorate did not decline. 
  • In Iowa, the white turnout rate declined significantly from 71 percent to 65 percent between 2012 and 2016. As a share of the electorate in the state, whites held constant because non-white turnout was also down. 
  • Although not a battleground state, the relative closeness of the 2016 Texas presidential race compared to prior races has prompted some to wonder if changing demographics was the cause. However, black and Hispanic turnout followed the same trends in the state as they did nationally; and whites may have increased their share of the total electorate slightly in 2016 compared to 2012. 


CAIRCO Research

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