In November 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, 56.2 percent of college-age African Americans went to the polls. For college-age Whites, slightly less than half of all potential voters went to the polls.
The percentage of Whites, ages 18 to 24, who voted in 2008 was virtually unchanged from the rate in the previous presidential election in 2004. But the voter participation of young Blacks jumped from 47.3 percent in 2004 to 56.2 percent in 2008.
The increase in voting by young Blacks in 2008 was a key element in Barack Obama’s election, particularly in states where the results were very close. In 2012, a key question is whether the same enthusiasm remains or will Black voting rates revert to lower levels?
Another question that must be asked is why 43.8 percent of all young Black voters did not go to the polls in 2008. If a young Black man on the presidential ticket is not enough to compel young African Americans to go to polls, what will ever convince these young Blacks to become active participants in American democracy?