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.
It comes as no surprise that in the 2016 presidential election, African Americans’ participation in the electoral process declined from the record levels of 2012. According to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012, 66.6 percent of the non-Hispanic Black population voted in the presidential election, compared to 64.1 percent of non-Hispanic Whites. In 2016, White voter turnout increased slightly to 65.3 percent. But Black voter turnout decreased by seven percentage points to 59.6 percent. In 2012, non-Hispanic Blacks were 12.9 percent of all people who cast votes in the presidential election. In 2016, this percentage dropped to 11.9 percent.
In 2016, turnout rates dropped for all age groups of African Americans. The largest drop for Blacks was in the 30-to-44 age group.