Politics
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 6:  People vote at a school in the predominantly Latino Boyle Heights area during the U.S. presidential election on November 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The election will decide whether Democrat Barack Obama serves a second term as president of the United States or is replaced by Republican rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 6: People vote at a school in the predominantly Latino Boyle Heights area during the U.S. presidential election on November 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The election will decide whether Democrat Barack Obama serves a second term as president of the United States or is replaced by Republican rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  

Latino 2012 turnout lower than reported

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Latino turnout in the 2012 election was much lower than media claimed during the weeks and months after the election, according to a new report by the Census Department.

Latinos comprised only 8.4 percent of the electorate, almost one-sixth less than the widely reported estimate of 10 percent, according to the report.

Still, the Latino’s 8.4 percent of the voters was up from 7.4 percent in 2008, and 6 percent in 2004. The numbers of Latinos who voted leapt to 11.3 million, up 1.44 million from 2008, but their share of the electorate was swamped by 98 million white voters, 17.8 million black voters and 3.9 million Asian voters.

The “10 percent” error was widely broadcast immediately after President Obama’s re-election.

“Latinos had such a strong turnout that it lifted them to 10 percent of voters nationwide,” said a Nov. 7 report by the New York Times.

“National exit polls showed that 10 percent of the electorate was Hispanic,” said a Nov. 7 report by the Washington Post.

“Roughly 50 percent of Latino voters cast their ballots, comprising 10 percent of Tuesday’s turnout,” said a Nov. 8 report from Fox News’ Latino division.

The reported sudden jump in the Latino share of the electorate was highlighted by many advocates of an immigration rewrite, an increased number of guest-workers and an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

In the 2012 election, Latino turnout remained at its historically low levels, despite President Barack Obama’s effort to use the immigration issue to spur Latino turnout.

Turnout in 2012 was only 48.0 percent, less than the 49.9 percent in 2008, said the Census report. Latino turnout was 47.2 percent in 2004, and 45.1 percent in 2000, the report said.

That’s a much lower turnout than among whites and African-Americans.

However, the turnout among GOP-leaning whites dipped during the election.

White turnout fell from 67.2 percent in 2004, to 66.1 percent in 2008, to 64.1 percent in 2012, said the Census report.

Compared to 2004 turnout, “the biggest decline in eligible voters was among whites, particularly those without a college degree,” said a June 3 report by the Center for Immigration Studies.

“Had eligible white voters turned out at the 2004 rate, 4.7 million more of them would have voted, [including] 4.2 million without a college degree,” said the report.

In contrast, African-American turnout has risen from 60 percent in 2004, to 64.7 percent in 2008, and to 66.2 percent in 2012, despite the stalled economy and high rates of unemployment among African-Americans.

The new turnout numbers can shape the politicians’ planning for the next election.

For example, Gov. Mitt Romney could have won if he had increased his support among from women from 44 percent to 48 percent, or increased his share of the African-American vote from 6 percent to 21 percent, or increased his share of the Hispanic vote from 27 percent to 50 percent, according to CIS report, which is based on the Census report.

“If Governor Romney had increased his share of the white vote by three percentage points, from the 59 percent he actually received to 62 percent, then he would have won the popular vote,” said the CIS report.

The GOP only needs a relatively small increase in white support and turnout because that bloc is the largest racial or ethnic bloc in the electorate.

In 2012, Obama won because he boosted turnout of blocs that supported him, including African-Americans, unmarried women and even youth voters.

In contrast, Gov. Mitt Romney failed to increase turnout in GOP-leaning blocs, including college graduates, older voters and evangelicals. GOP turnout actually dropped among white voters, married voters and people who earn between $50,000 and $100,000.

In 2012, Whites contributed 73.7 percent of the electorate, despite dropping 2 million votes compared to the 2008 turnout, said the Census report.

“Each percentage point of the white vote equaled 980,000 votes,” said CIS. “Each percentage point of the black vote equaled 172,000 votes … Each percentage point of the Hispanic vote equaled 112,000 votes,” said the CIS report.

Follow Neil on Twitter