Still Sifting Through the 2012 Election Data

There’s a natural tendency to get a “take” on any given election from what we hear immediately afterwards, which sometimes makes us miss important later findings. And while there’s nothing earthshaking in the Census Bureau’s report on the 2012 elections, there were some nuances worth noting, as Pew’s Paul Taylor and Mark Hugo Lopez note.

One is that the much-discussed phenomenon of black turnout catching up with and exceeding white turnout in 2012 shouldn’t be attributed entirely to Barack Obama’s presence on the ballot. Black turnout in presidential elections has been increasing steadily since 1996, and there’s no reason to think it won’t continue that pattern in 2016 even if both major-party tickets lack an African-American candidate.

A second finding of note is that although it seems the “youth vote” (as defined as under-30 voters) held steady, the Census Bureau indicates that turnout among 18-24 year-olds–first-time or second-time voters–actually declined from 48.5% in 2008 to 41.2% in 2012. That could be a bad sign for “youth turnout” in 2016.

In any event, as Earl Weaver always said, it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.