SSDAN Director Dr. William H. Frey Points to Minorities as Key Factor in 2012 Presidential Election


On May 1st, SSDAN Director Dr. William H. Frey released a report for the Brookings Institution citing what he believes to be a key factor in the upcoming presidential election: the minority vote. The first aspect Dr. Frey highlights is the disparity between eligible voters and the total minority population.  For every 100 Hispanic residents in America, only 44 are eligible to vote, whereas for every 100 white residents, 78 are eligible to vote. 

Additionally, Dr. Frey points to the greatly increased voter turnout rate among minorities in 2008 compared to 2004.  Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians all experienced an increase in voter turnout between 2004 and 2008, but what makes this trend significant is the fact that minorities overwhelmingly vote in favor of the Democratic candidate. 

Finally, Dr. Frey emphasizes the idea that "minorities will account for a slightly larger share of eligible voters than in 2008. At the same time, white support for the Republican candidate may be greater than in 2008. Which dynamic will prevail?"  To answer this key question, Dr. Frey illustrates three different scenarios, each taking into account different assumptions of white and minority voting patterns.

In the first scenario, Dr. Frey conducts a simulation based on the 2008 turnout and margins for whites and minorities.  In this scenario, President Obama would win the election handily, garnering 358 electoral votes to Governor Romney's 180 (270 is needed to win). 

The second scenario applies the 2004 turnout and margins for whites and minorities to the simulation.  In this situation, Governor Romney wins a neck and neck election, receiving 286 electoral votes to President Obama's 252. 

Lastly, Dr. Frey generates a third scenario, which takes into account the 2004 turnouts and margins for whites, and the 2008 turnouts and margins for minorities.  In this final scenario, President Obama receives 292 electoral votes to Governor Romney's 246. 

In the full report, Dr. Frey details the historical voting patterns of minorities, and he provides a more in depth look at what to expect for the minority influence on the 2012 election.  Finally, for more information on historical voting patterns among various demographics, SSDAN recently released a brief detailing voter turnout in the past half-century. 
SSDAN Office

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