Unlike other minority groups whose increasing electoral clout was driven by population growth, blacks' increased muscle in the past four presidential elections has been the result of rising turnout rates, a Pew Research Center analysis of census data, Election Day exit poll data and vote totals from selected cities and counties released Wednesday indicated.
Census data and the Election Day exit polls indicated blacks made up 12 percent of the eligible electorate this year but accounted for an estimated 13 percent of votes cast, a repeat of the 2008 presidential election, Pew said.
Pew said its research indicated the share of votes this year, by race and ethnicity was whites, 72 percent; blacks 13 percent; Hispanics 10 percent; and Asian 3 percent.
In previous presidential elections for which there is reliable data, blacks accounted for a smaller share of votes.
In 2012, more Hispanics and Asian-Americans voted than ever before but turnout rates among those groups lagged the overall public by a substantial margin, Pew said. Their growing electoral clout is mainly because of rapid population growth.
As for whites, not only has their share of the eligible electorate been falling, but their turnout rate appears to have declined in 2012 for the second presidential election in row, Pew said. Voter turnout rates for whites from 1988 until 2008 rose from 64.2 percent to 66.1 percent, while voter turnout rates for blacks during the same period rose from 55.1 percent to 65.2 percent.
The change in voter turnout rates from 2004 until 2008, the last election available, indicates turnout among whites fell 1.1 percent while turnout rates among blacks rose 4.9 percent, a trend that may be seen in 2012 once polling data are available.
Overall, about 129 million votes were cast for president in 2012, down from 131 million in 2008, the Pew Research Center said.