December 5, 2012

Youth Vote Undergoes Big Racial, Ethnic Changes

58%

Just 58% of voters 18-29 identified as white non-Hispanics in 2012, compared to 74% in 2000.

The racial and ethnic composition of young voters has shifted dramatically over the last four presidential elections.

Just 58% of voters age 18-29 identified as white non-Hispanics, while 18% were Hispanic, 17% were African American and 7% identified as mixed-race or some other race. The share of young voters who are white has declined 16 points since 2000, when 74% of voters under 30 identified as white and 26% identified as nonwhite.

This stands in sharp contrast to older voters. Fully 76% of voters 30 and older were white, down only six points from 2000. Only 24% of voters 30 and older were nonwhite, including 12% who identified as black and 8% as Hispanic.

The changing demographics of the young vote are significant because President Obama’s support among young voters declined in 2012 among many of the same subgroups in the overall electorate in which he lost ground, particularly whites, men and independents. His losses among young voters since 2008 might have been even greater, but for the fact that Obama won young African Americans and Hispanics by margins that were about as large as in 2008. Read More