New Study Finds Black Voter Turnout Plummeted In 2016 Election

FILE - In this file photo taken Oct. 29, 2008, voters line up outside the Hamilton County Board of Elections for early voting in Cincinnati. U.S. District Judge Michael Watson ruled Tuesday, May 24, 2016, that a law trimming early voting in Ohio is unconstitutional, after the state's Democratic Party and other plaintiffs sued over Republican-backed changes to voting rules in the presidential battleground state. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)
Al Behrman/AP

A new study co-authored by political science professors and a policy analyst from the think tank Demos finds that Donald Trump’s electoral college victory in November depended heavily on an increase in white voter turnout and an even bigger decrease in turnout among African-American voters—particularly in the key swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Comparing data from the voter file vendor Catalist and the U.S. Census Bureau, the researchers concluded: “Without those shifts in turnout from various racial and ethnic groups, these pivotal states might have gone not to Trump but to Clinton — giving Clinton an electoral college victory.”

The study, published Monday in the Washington Post‘s Monkey Cage blog, found that between 2012 and 2016, white voter turnout jumped 2.4 percent nationally, while black voter turnout fell 4.7 percent.

The split was even more dramatic in the midwestern states that tipped the scales for Trump. In Ohio, black voter turnout dropped 7.5 percent; in Wisconsin, it declined 12.3 percent; and in Michigan, it was down 12.4 percent.

That trend extends beyond the midwest, the study found, as white voter turnout surged 4 points while black voter turnout fell by 4 points in the critical swing state of Florida. Trump carried Florida by a narrow margin of just 1.2 points.

Had every demographic turned out to the polls in 2016 at the same rates they had in 2012, the researchers determined, Hillary Clinton would be sitting in the White House today.

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