2016’s States with the Highest Political Engagement Among Blacks
Black votes matter. In both 2008 and 2012, black voters turned out at the polls at unprecedented numbers, helping to secure the election and reelection of the first black president in the Oval Office. Barack Obama owed much of his triumphant White House bid to this demographic, granting him more than 90 percent of their vote during each election cycle and even outvoting whites for the first time in 2012.
This year, black voters will account for more than 12 percent of the national electorate, but whether they’ll repeat history remains an unpredictable outcome. After all, Americans today are deeply divided along racial lines, and current presidential hopefuls have yet to deliver a message that resonates with black voters. There is no black candidate on the Democratic side this time, and the only one in the GOP has already fallen behind his fellow party contenders. But the problem of black underrepresentation isn’t exclusive to the presidential race. It trickles down to state and local governments, as Ferguson, Mo., made abundantly clear in 2014.
What’s certain, however, is that black Americans are more inclined in some states than in others to fulfill their civic duty by participating in the democratic process. And though various theories attempt to rationalize trends in blacks’ voting behaviors, simply identifying where on the map this group is most politically active — and therefore likely to maximize its electoral clout — helps to put this election year and racial-gap issues into context.
In honor of Black History Month and with presidential primaries in full swing, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 48 states across six key metrics that speak to the level of black political engagement. Our data set includes black voter turnout and registration during the most recent presidential and midterm elections as well as the proportional representation of blacks in the state legislature and national party conventions. Scroll down for the complete ranking, expert political commentary and our detailed methodology.
|7||New Jersey||71.74||31||New Hampshire||46.11|
Although the black voter-turnout rate in presidential elections has been rising since 1996, it remains lower in certain areas compared with others. In order to understand the reasons behind the low turnout and to find solutions to voting roadblocks for racial minorities, we turned to a panel of experts in fields such as political science and African-American studies. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:
- What accounts for low levels of voter turnout among blacks?
- Do voter-ID laws disproportionately affect voter turnout for blacks relative to other groups?
- Why are blacks and other minorities underrepresented in political office? For example, there are currently only two black senators and there have only been four black governors in U.S. history.
- What strategies have proven effective in increasing voter participation and civic engagement among blacks?
In order to determine where black Americans are most politically engaged, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 48 states across six key metrics. Idaho and Montana were not included in the sample due to data limitations. The metrics are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was given a value between 0 and 100, wherein 100 is the best value for that metric and 0 is the worst.
We then calculated the overall score for each state using the weighted average across all metrics and ranked them accordingly.
- Black Voter Turnout (2012 Presidential Election): Double Weight (~22.22 Points)
- Black Voter Turnout (2014 Midterm Elections): Double Weight (~22.22 Points)
- Black Voter Registration (2012 Presidential Election): Full Weight (~11.11 Points)
- Black Voter Registration (2014 Midterm Elections): Full Weight (~11.11 Points)
- Proportional Representation of Blacks in State Legislature (measures the percentage of black representatives per black population): Double Weight (~22.22 Points)
- Proportional Representation of Blacks in National Party Conventions (measures the percentage of black delegates at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions per black population): Full Weight (~11.11 Points)
Sources: Data used to create these rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and History, Art & Archives - United States House of Representatives.
Was this article helpful?