Who Voted in 2016?

We now have the breakdown from the Secretary of State’s office on who voted during the 2016 general election. I took the information I compiled on who voted in 2014, and updated it to reflect this year’s results. In short, voting by blacks and whites is down, while voting by Asians and Hispanics is up. Within each group, a larger percentage of voters went to the polls for all groups except for blacks, which declined slightly. Two years ago, I examined how different ethnic groups voted compared to 2010. I’ll do roughly the same this year, except comparing the results to 2012, the previous presidential election.

First, a comparison of the percentage the vote of each racial group contributed to the total, over the last four elections:

Year Asians Blacks Hispanics Other Unknown White
2016 1.6% 27.6% 2.1% 1.1% 6.6% 61.0%
2014 0.8% 28.7% 1.0% 0.7% 5.2% 63.5%
2012 1.0% 29.9% 1.3% 0.9% 5.5% 61.4%
2010 0.6% 28.3% 0.7% 0.7% 3.4% 66.3%

The biggest gain from 2012 was in the Hispanic vote, which increased by 0.8%, followed by the Asian vote, which grew by 0.6%. The share of the black vote decreased by 2.3%, and the share of the white vote was down 0.4%. One reason for a lower black vote would be that Barack Obama was not on the ticket. For whites, the decrease is partially due to over 77,000 fewer registered white voters, and because minorities generally raised their share of the vote.

The next table shows the relative strength of each racial group over the past four elections, based on the number of registered voters for each group. Again, the number of registered Hispanic voters increased by almost 36,000, increasing that group’s share. The Asian share also increased, while the percentage of registered black voters remained almost the same. 77,295 fewer white registered voters contributed to that group’s reduction in the share of registered voters by 2.5%. Also worth noting, is an increase of the number of voters whose race and/or sex is unknown. Many believe that most of those in the Unknown category are minorities.

Year Asians Blacks Hispanics Other Unknown White
2016 1.8% 30.1% 2.3% 1.2% 7.8% 56.7%
2014 1.4% 30.1% 1.8% 1.0% 7.7% 58.0%
2012 1.4% 30.0% 1.7% 1.1% 6.7% 59.2%
2010 1.3% 29.2% 1.5% 1.0% 5.2% 61.8%

For each group, what percentage of its registered voters actually showed up at the polls? The next table holds that information:

Year Asians Blacks Hispanics Other Unknown White
2016 65.7% 68.6% 67.2% 65.6% 63.6% 80.4%
2014 28.8% 47.8% 28.0% 36.3% 34.1% 55.0%
2012 54.8% 72.6% 56.4% 61.3% 59.8% 75.7%
2010 26.2% 50.4% 25.5% 34.5% 34.2% 55.9%

Perhaps due to the unusual nature of this election, a higher percentage of registered voters in each group showed up at the polls compared to 2012, with the exception of blacks. Asians and Hispanics were each up around 11%, while an amazing 80.4% of whites voted, up almost 5 points. Black participation was down 4 points statewide, to 68.6% of RVs. In the three counties that flipped from Republican to Democrat, however, a substantially higher percentage of blacks went to the polls, while the number of whites were just over the statewide average. In Cobb County, 73.0% of registered blacks voted. In Gwinnett County, it was 73.5%, and in Henry County, it was 76.7%.

Looking at statewide averages tells us a lot, but looking at changes in individual counties can tell us more. This table shows how voting patterns have changed over the last six years in Douglas, Gwinnett, and Ware counties:

Asians Blacks Hispanics Other Unknown White
Douglas County
2016 406 0.7% 23,514 41.0% 1,237 2.2% 682 1.2% 4,128 7.2% 27,427 47.8%
2014 152 0.3% 15,271 39.6% 404 1.1% 301 0.8% 2,211 5.7% 19,842 51.5%
2012 293 0.5% 21,913 39.5% 780 1.4% 504 0.9% 3,495 6.3% 28,507 51.4%
2010 130 0.3% 13,839 36.5% 324 0.9% 251 0.7% 1,776 4.7% 21,618 57.0%
Gwinnett County
2016 16,510 5.1% 84,934 26.1% 18,739 5.8% 7,903 2.4% 27,254 8.4% 170,041 52.3%
2014 4,903 2.4% 50,866 25.4% 5,692 2.8% 3,623 1.8% 13,362 6.7% 122,021 60.9%
2012 9,915 3.3% 76,107 25.6% 11,127 3.7% 6,809 2.3% 20,311 6.8% 173,234 58.2%
2010 3,927 2.0% 44,917 22.7% 3,868 2.0% 3,014 1.5% 11,328 5.7% 130,540 66.1%
Ware County
2016 45 0.4% 2,579 21.5% 71 0.6% 44 0.4% 280 2.3% 8,977 74.8%
2014 13 0.2% 1,430 20.9% 15 0.2% 11 0.2% 101 1.5% 5,264 77.0%
2012 35 0.3% 2,939 24.5% 51 0.4% 32 0.3% 186 1.6% 8,749 73.0%
2010 16 0.2% 1,406 19.5% 19 0.3% 15 0.2% 47 0.7% 5,690 79.1%

Whites make up only 47.8% of the registered voters in Douglas County, and that number tracks pretty well with its percentage of the actual vote. While the number of Asian and Hispanic voters increased since 2012, the increase of 1,600 black voters and a decrease of over 1,000 white voters was enough to bring the white vote share below 50%.

In Gwinnett, the shares of Asian and Hispanic votes each rose above 5% of the total, a sign of the growing diversity in the state’s second largest county. Despite having only 3,193 fewer white votes than in 2012, the share of the total votes from whites declined by almost 6%. Yet with whites being only 48.4% of registered voters, they still had a majority of those that showed up on Election Day.

In South Georgia’s Ware County, the number of registered black voters actually declined by just over 200. That was reflected in the share of the black vote, which declined by 3 percentage points. With the number of Asian and Hispanic votes increasing by a negligible amount, whites were able to increase their percentage share of the vote by almost two points.

I updated the tables I made two years ago to reflect the 2016 numbers for the different groups.

And finally, the disclaimer that there’s now way to tell from the data provided by the Secretary of State’s office how people actually voted. Nonetheless, it’s clear that the changing voter demographics will impact whether Georgia remains a red state, turns purple, or becomes blue.

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