Voter turnout among black voters in U.S. presidential elections 1964-2016

Between 1964 and 2016, turnout among black voters in U.S. presidential elections fluctuated between 48 and 62 percent, with the highest turnouts coming in 2008 and 2012, when Barack Obama (the first African American candidate from a major party) was the Democratic candidate. Voter turnout has always been lowest among those under 25 years of age, although younger black voters did participate in high numbers in the 1960s, during the civil rights movement, and again in 2008, during Obama's first election campaign; young black voters also participated in higher numbers than white voters of the same age between 2000 and 2012.
In 1964, black voters over the age of 65 voted at a similar rate to those in the 18 to 24 bracket, however they have consistently had the highest turnout rates among black voters in recent years, overtaking voters in the 45 to 64 years bracket (whose voting rate has consistently been between 60 and 70 percent) in the 1996 election. Black voters in the 25 to 44 age bracket have traditionally voted in line with the overall average among black voters, although at was slightly above the average until 1984, when increased participation among older voters then pushed it below the average.

Voter turnout rates* among black voters, by age, in U.S. presidential elections from 1964 to 2016

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Release date



United States

Survey time period

1964 to 2016

Supplementary notes

*Voter turnout figures relate to the share of eligible voters who take part in the election, and does not represent the share of the entire population (for example, under-18's, non-citizens, felons (rules vary)).
Residents in U.S. overseas territories are eligible to vote in general elections, but may not vote in the presidential election.

Data from before 1972 is for 21 to 24 year olds, except for voters in Georgia and Kentucky (18-24), Alaska (19-24) and Hawaii (20-24). The 26th Amendment to the U.S. constitution lowered the minimum voting age to 18 across the country.

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