Written by: Tiffany Julian, Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division
The 2008 presidential election saw the largest level of voting turnout among black citizens since the Census Bureau began consistently measuring citizenship status in 1996. A similar peak was also reached for Hispanic citizens. In the election of 2010, did either of these groups keep up their voter turnout rates?
At first glance, the answer is “no” because both groups declined as a portion of the voting population from 2008 to 2010. However, this ignores the large difference in voting patterns between presidential elections and congressional elections.
In presidential elections (2000, 2004, 2008), voter turnout increases for all groups, including black and Hispanic citizens. The black share of the presidential vote in 2000, 2004 and 2008 averaged 0.7 percentage points higher than the following congressional vote (2002, 2006, 2010). The margin for Hispanics was 0.2 percentage points. (These percentages, 0.7 and 0.2 percent, are not statistically different.) A drop-off going from a presidential to a congressional election was to be expected for both groups.
After the record-setting turnout in 2008, neither the Hispanics’ nor the blacks’ share of the vote fell more than it had in most recent congressional elections. As a result, the black and Hispanic contribution to the vote in 2010 was higher than in any of the other congressional elections from 1998 to 2010.
These numbers come from Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2010, a set of tables that compares voting and registration patterns by demographic, social and geographic characteristics. They also include state figures on voting and registration.