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A higher rate of African American voters than white voters cast ballots in the 2012 US presidential election, according to an analysis conducted for the Associated Press.
African Americans also voted at a higher rate than members of other minority groups, the study found.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, analyzed the 2012 elections for the AP using US Census Bureau data on eligible voters and turnout and exit poll data. His research was supplemented by material from the Pew Research Center and additional research by George Mason University associate professor Michael McDonald plus AP interviews with the Census Bureau experts.
The Census Bureau will release official numbers on voter turnout in May. If they confirm the AP’s analysis, it means the black voter turnout rate will have surpassed white voter turnout rate for the first time in history.
In 2012, African American voters cast their votes amidst significant efforts to deter minority voters from going to the polls.
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Frey found that, had black and white voters turned out at the same rates they did in 2004, when the white voter turnout rate was higher than the rate for black voters, Republican Mitt Romney would have won the election.
"The 2012 turnout is a milestone for blacks and a huge potential turning point," Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University, told the AP. "What it suggests is that there is an `Obama effect' where people were motivated to support Barack Obama. But it also means that black turnout may not always be higher, if future races aren't as salient."
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