The Racial Gap in Voter Participation Has Increased in the Last Two Presidential Elections

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. In 2016, White voter turnout increased slightly to 65.3 percent. But Black voter turnout decreased by seven percentage points to 59.6 percent.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau documents voter participation rates for the 2020 election cycle.

Overall, 75.2 percent of all adult non-Hispanic Whites in the United States were registered to vote in 2020. For African Americans, the figure was 64.5 percent. Some 69.8 percent of all non-Hispanic Whites voted in the 2020 election compared to 58.5 percent of African Americans.

More than 14 million African Americans in the United States did not vote.

Despite voter participation rates that were lowered than those for Whites, Black voters provided the margin of victory for President Biden in several key states including Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Without these states, Biden would have lost the election.

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