A decline in African-American voter turnout could tip the election.
In 2012, if the African-American voter turnout rate in every state declines to 60%, which was the national voter turnout rate for African-Americans in 2004, then we estimate:
- President Barack Obama will not win in North Carolina – a decline in African-American turnout will lead to a loss of 63,706 votes which is 4.5 times the 2008 margin of victory;
- President Barack Obama will have difficulty winning in Ohio and Virginia–lower African- American turnout will lead to a loss of almost a quarter of the margin of victory in 2008.
The gap between African-American and white (non-Hispanic) registration rates in 2008 was greater than the gap in turnout rates but when registered, African-Americans were the most likely to vote in 2008. An extra 3 million African-American voters can be gained in 2012 by increasing the African-American registration rate.
- In 2012, if overall African-American registration rate rises to 78.3% (2008 registration rate in Maryland for African-Americans) from the rate of 69.7% in 2008, and turnout is as it was in 2008, then we estimate that an extra 3 million African-Americans will vote.
- African-American voter registration rates did not match turnout rates in 2008 – African- American registration rate in 2008 at 69.7% was 3.8 points below the white (non-Hispanic) registration rate and the turnout rate was 1.4 points below the white (non-Hispanic) turnout rate.
- When African-Americans were registered they were the most likely to vote in 2008 – 92.8% of registered African-Americans, 90% of registered whites (non-Hispanic) and 84% of registered Hispanics voted in 2008.
African-Americans had the greatest real increase in voter turnout in the 2008 election - growing at twice the rate of growth in the African-American citizen, over 18 years population while other groups of voters grew at/or below their rate of growth in the citizen, over 18 years population.
The Hidden Swing Voters: Impact of African-Americans in 2012
- How did the growth in African-American voters impact on the 2008 outcome and what is the likely 2012 impact
- Analysis from 2008 that has not had much public attention
- Quantify how African-American voters will impact on 2012 outcome
- Census Bureau's CPS, Voting Supplement: Used for citizen, registration and turnout numbers at national and state level
- Federal Elections Commission, Elections Results: Used for margins of victories in 2004 and 2008.
- CNN Exit Polls: Only for Barack Obama's support in 2008 to estimate the impact of drop in turnout in 2012