More than 2 million women of color have joined the vote-eligible population in the past two years, making them key players in U.S. elections, according to Center for American Progress, citing an upcoming report by senior fellow Maya L. Harris.
As a result of those numbers, President Barack Obama and other Democrats have been on the campaign trail mobilizing women to participate in Tuesday’s midterm election.
In 2012, Black women voted at a higher rate than any other group—across gender, race, and ethnicity—and, along with other women of color, played a key role in President Obama’s re-election. The following year, turnout by women of color in an off-year election helped provide Terry McAuliffe (D) the margin of victory in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election. Notably, both President Obama and Gov. McAuliffe lost the White women’s vote but overwhelmingly captured the votes of women of color.
The unadulterated numbers underscore the power of the emerging voting bloc, which is why Democrats this election cycle have focused on women’s issues, voting rights, reproductive health rights, low-wage jobs—where Black women are overrepresented—and health care.
In both 2008 and 2012, Black women turned out in such large numbers that they were actually overrepresented in the electorate, meaning that they were a higher proportion of the electorate than of their share of the voting-eligible population. They participated at a slightly higher rate than White women in 2008, and were four points higher than White women in 2012.
In fact, in the last election cycle, Black women registered and voted at the highest rate of any group of voters across race, gender, and ethnicity. Black women had a turnout rate of 70 percent. They were followed by White women at 66 percent, white men at 63 percent, and black men at 61 percent.
To be sure, with important democratic rights at stake, including voting rights, Black women should continue to flex their sizable political muscle in the voting booth Tuesday. The strength in numbers is there.