Low Rates of African American Voting in Congressional Elections

In 2012, when President Obama was locked in what was thought to be a very close election contest with Mitt Romney, Black voters went to the polls in record numbers. For the first time in American history, the voting rate for African Americans was higher than the rate for Whites.

But mid-term Congressional elections are a different story. And these elections are critically important in regards to African American higher education because Congress decides on federal support for historically Black colleges and universities and sets thresholds for Pell Grant awards and other federal financial aid.

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that voter turnout in the 2014 congressional elections was at its lowest level since 1978. In 2014, there were 26,559,000 million adult African Americans who were eligible to vote. Only 10,789,000, or 40.6 percent, of them reported that they actually cast ballots in the 2014 midterm elections.

Hispanics, many of whom have similar views to African Americans on economic and educational issues, had an even lower voting rate of 27 percent. For Whites, 45.8 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

The full report, Who Votes? Congressional Elections and the American Electorate: 1978–2014, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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