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How Voters of Color Shaped the 2012 Election


The 2012 presidential election won’t just be remembered as a face-off between conservatives and liberals but also as a cultural turning point for the United States. Record numbers of Latinos and Asian Americans showed up to the polls on Nov. 6, 2012. What’s more, black voters in 2012 matched their record turnout in the 2008 race. Collectively minority voters played a key role in helping President Barack Obama win reelection. Their overwhelming support for the president not only led the nation to focus on the issues that matter most to voters of color but also to the Republican Party rethinking how it approaches minority communities. The 2012 race demonstrated that black and brown voters refuse to go unheard.

How Minorities Helped Obama Win Re-Election

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Before Election Day 2012, it was no secret that African Americans heavily supported President Barack Obama. After Nov. 6, however, it became clear that other people of color also overwhelmingly backed the president’s re-election campaign. While 93 percent of black voters supported Obama’s reelection bid, 71 percent of Latino voters did and 73 percent of Asian Americans did. Both groups turned out to the polls in their highest numbers ever. Latinos made up 10 percent of the electorate, and Asian Americans made up three percent. The two groups were said to support Obama and Democrats generally because of their approach to immigration and healthcare reform. Exit polls also revealed that most Obama supporters felt that the president actually cared about people like them. Romney scored lower marks in this area.

The Hispanic Voting Bloc

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What makes Latino voters unique? The Hispanic electorate cares about a number of political issues, according to a variety of polls. Among the top concerns of this voting bloc are healthcare, unemployment and the economy. While immigration reform is a major concern of Hispanic voters, it’s far from the only one. The Hispanics who care most about immigration are typically immigrants or the children of immigrants. Because of heavy immigration from Latin America in recent decades, the Hispanic vote is expected to continue rising in future elections. Every month 200,000 Latinos in the U.S. reach the legal vote age. To boot, by 2050 the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that Hispanics will make up 30 percent of the nation’s population.

All About Asian-American Voters

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Asian Americans made up a tiny percentage of the electorate in the 2012 presidential race—3 percent. That figure, though, is triple the percentage of Asian Americans who voted in 1996. As the fastest growing immigrant group in the country, Asian Americans will likely make up a larger share of the electorate in the 2016 presidential race. They already outnumber the percentage of black voters in Western states such as California, Washington and Oregon. While Asian Americans once seemed to lean Republican, today they exhibit a distinct preference for Democrats. This is reportedly because they feel Democrats better address their concerns about immigration and healthcare reform. In 2012, Asian Americans helped elect a record number of Asian lawmakers to Congress.

A Profile of Black Voters

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After the 2008 election, a number of misconceptions began to circulate about the African-American electorate. Arguably the biggest one was that blacks voted for Barack Obama simply because of racial loyalty. That’s because more than 90 percent of black voters supported Obama in 2008 and 2012. The fact is, black voters are fiercely Democratic. Ninety percent of blacks also voted for Al Gore in 2000, and 88 percent of blacks voted for John Kerry in 2004. Given these numbers, it’s inaccurate to say that blacks solely voted for Obama because he’s a fellow African American. This idea also ignores the fact that several other African Americans have launched presidential campaigns and none have enjoyed the support from blacks that President Obama did.
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