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The Diversifying Electorate–Voting Rates by Race and Hispanic Origin in 2012 (and Other Recent Elections)

Report Number P20-568
Thom File

This report provides analysis of the increasingly diverse American electorate, specifically for presidential elections since 1996, with particular focus given to the patterns of voter turnout by race and Hispanic origin. Overall voting rates have fluctuated in recent presidential races, from a low of 58.4 percent of the citizen population in 1996 to a high of about 64.0 percent in both 2004 and 2008 (Table 1).1 In 2012, the overall voting rate was 61.8 percent. By examining these over all changes by race and Hispanic  origin, this report provides a better understanding of the social and demographic factors that have influenced recent American elections.2

The data in this report come from the November 2012 Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting and Registration Supplement, which surveys the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the United States. The estimates presented in this report may differ from those based on administrative data or exit polls. For more information, see the sections on Source and Accuracy of the Data and Measuring Voting and Registration in the Current Population Survey.

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1 The estimates for 2004 and 2008 are not statistically different.

2 Federal surveys now give respondents the option of reporting more than one race. Therefore, two basic ways of defining a race group are possible. A group such as Asian may be defined as those who reported Asian and no other race (the race-alone or single-race concept) or as those who reported Asian regardless of whether they also reported another race (the race-alone-or-in-combination concept). The body of this report (text, figures, and tables) shows data for people who reported they were the single race White and not Hispanic, people who reported the single race Black, and people who reported the single race Asian. Use of the single-race populations does not imply that it is the preferred method of presenting or analyzing data.

Because Hispanics may be any race, data in this report for Hispanics overlap slightly with data for the Black population and the Asian population.

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