Wednesday, September 14, 2016
The majority of people who didn’t vote in the 2012 presidential election were white, middle-income and middle-aged
Among voters with little education, African-Americans are 1.7 times more likely to vote than whites. Black voters, particularly women, have the highest turnout rates over all. The turnout gap with whites is most pronounced at lower levels of income and education. Experts give several explanations for high black turnout, which has increased by nearly 20 percentage points since the mid-1990s. The presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama encouraged more African-Americans to register to vote, and black churches have played a strong role in mobilization. African-Americans are also more reliable partisan voters — more than 90% voted for President Obama in 2012 — so Democrats may be more likely to put resources toward getting them to turn out than other groups. Turnout rates for Hispanic voters are much lower over all. Language barriers and weaker connections to the political system are part of the explanation, said Melissa R. Michelson, a professor of political science at Menlo College in California. “There’s this idea that even if you are legally entitled to vote, you don’t see it as something that matters to you and your community,” she said. But Hispanic voters are not a homogeneous group. Hispanics who are naturalized citizens are more likely to vote than those born in the United States. Immigrant communities perceive a higher stake in election outcomes, Professor Michelson said. “Being an immigrant has become a politicized identity, and there’s a very clear connection between your identity as an immigrant and what’s going on in the political areas,” she said.