Report: Iowa voter turnout among highest in 2012 election

Black voters turn out at higher rates than white voters for the first time since 1996

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Published: May 8 2013 | 6:15 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 3:06 pm in
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A new report says Iowans voted at some of the highest rates in the country in the 2012 election.

It also says turnout went up among older people but declined among the young when compared with 2008.

The report by the U.S. Census Bureau says 69.4 percent of eligible citizens in Iowa cast ballots in the 2012 election, tying with New Hampshire for the sixth-highest rate in the country.

Mississippi, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Colorado had higher rates, according to the study, which was released Wednesday. The U.S. overall turnout was 61.8 percent.

The figures for Iowa confirm much of what is already known about turnout in the election. Voting among young people wasn't as high as it was in 2008, when President Barack Obama was running for a first term. Then, 63.5 percent of eligible voters 18 to 24 years old cast ballots, while last November 49.9 percent in that category voted, the survey said

The margin of error for both surveys was about 8 percentage points.

Turnout among older people went up. The report says 84.6 percent of eligible residents between ages 65 to 74 voted, up from 79.8 percent four years earlier. Turnout among people between 25 and 44 years and 45 and 64 years wasn’t statistically different in 2012 than it was in 2008.

Perhaps the biggest revelation in the report was that, nationwide, black voters turned out at higher rates than white voters for the first time since such comparisons began to be made in 1996.

The government says 66.2 percent of eligible black citizens voted, while 64.1 percent of eligible non-Hispanic white citizens voted. Black voters were the only racial or ethnic group to see a significant increase in its rate of voting in 2012 over four years earlier, the report said.

In fact, voting rates by African-Americans have gone up 13 percentage points since 1996.

In Iowa, figures weren’t available for turnout among racial and ethnic groups because of their relatively small share of the state’s population. The survey did show a slight decrease in turnout among non-Hispanic whites from 2008, but given the margins of error in the survey, the dip from 71.1 percent to 70.7 percent was not statistically significant.

Women voted in greater numbers than men, too. Just over 71 percent of eligible women voted in the state, compared with 67.6 percent of males.

Brad Anderson, who was the state director for Obama’s campaign in 2012, noted it was a re-election year for Obama, and that might explain the dip in younger voters from 2008, when enthusiasm skyrocketed. “It wasn’t for lack of trying,” he said.

He added the campaign focused heavily on turnout, persuasion and registration, with the latter increasing in the state. He also said women were a focus for the campaign. Overall, the number of votes was higher in 2012 than it was in 2008.

In Illinois, overall turnout was 61.5 percent of eligible citizens. Turnout among Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites was down from four years ago, while turnout among African-Americans was up.

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