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The effect of demographics in the presidential election

Demographics played a large part in the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. The minority population has changed over the past several years, greatly changing the dynamics of the country, which has a large effect on national politics. In 2000, 12.5% of the population was Hispanic. That increased to 16.3% in 2010. Similarly, in 2000, 12.3% of the population identified themselves as black. This increased to 12.6% in 2010. Asians were 3.6% of the population in 2000 and increased 4.8% in 2010.

President Barack Obama had virtually universal support from black voters in the election. Additionally, Hispanics — especially young Hispanic voters — overwhelmingly cast their vote for Obama. This is especially apparent when looking at the election results by county. While Obama had large support in cities across the U.S., he had particularly high support in the West and South which has large populations of Hispanics and blacks.

The Hispanic population is very high in the western part of the U.S. — with much higher penetration than other parts of the country.

Click on image to enlarge map.

The areas with the highest penetration of blacks are, not surprisingly, in the southern and southeastern part of the country.

Click on image to enlarge map.

In 2010, 14.2% of the adult population identified themselves as Hispanic and 12% of the adult population identified themselves as black. In counties where the Hispanic or black population is at least twice the national average, 60.3% voted for Obama and 39.7% voted for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

In counties where the Hispanic or black population is half (or less) than the national average, 47.0% of votes cast were for Obama and 53.0% were for Romney.

This interactive map shows the margin of victory in each county. Many of the counties with a high margin of victory for Obama have high percentages of Hispanic and/or black populations.

2012 presidential election margin of victory by county

Click on image to enlarge interactive map

What does all of this mean?

Not surprisingly, the changing demographics of the U.S. had a large effect on the outcome of national politics. Obama and his election team did an effective job reaching out to the minority communities to gain their support and vote. As this “minority” community continues to grow, it will continue to be a critical voice in politics going forward. Knowing where the Hispanic, black and other minority populations live is important for politicians to understand so they can interact more effectively with those powerful groups.

More information about Esri’s data can be found at or to learn more about Esri in general, go to

Pam Allison is a digital media, marketing strategist and location intelligence consultant. You can visit her blog at