Study: HBCU Student Voter Turnout Dropped 10 Percent in 2016

A new study out from Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education reveals that voter participation among college students was up overall during the 2016 presidential election, but that among students at historically black colleges and universities, voting dropped by just over ten percent from 2012.


For the 2016 election, our analysis was based on the voting records of 9,784,931 students at 1,023 higher education institutions. We found that 48.3% of all students in our study voted in the 2016 presidential election, with significant variations by race, gender, field of student, institution type, and more.

The center compared voting records to student enrollment records for more 9.5 million college students nationwide for its data, which shows that voting increased among white, Hispanic and Asian students overall, black college student voting dropped by five percent, two points below the national seven percent decrease in African American voting participation after record turnout in 2012.

Black voter turnout fell in 2016 US election

A record 137.5 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Overall voter turnout – defined as the share of adult U.S. citizens who cast ballots – was 61.4% in 2016, a share similar to 2012 but below the 63.6% who say they voted in 2008.

Some studies point to long wait times in HBCU states like South Carolina, Florida and Maryland as a culprit, while voter gerrymandering in other states like Georgia influenced participation.

The real reason black voters didn’t turn out for Hillary Clinton – and how to fix it

Among early voting results, fewer African-Americans than expected turned to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in battleground states like North Carolina and Florida. While black voters accounted for 25 percent of all early ballots cast in the Sunshine State in 2012, that number dropped to just 16 percent on the eve of the 2016 election, as reported.

Another theory? Black people, including HBCU students, just weren’t that into Hillary Clinton.

Clinton’s black voter turnout dropped more than 11 percent compared to 2012. The support for Clinton among active black voters was still exceedingly high (87 percent, versus 93 percent for Obama), but the big difference was the turnout. Almost two million black votes cast for Obama in 2012 did not turn out for Clinton. According to one plausible calculation, if in North Carolina blacks had turned out for Clinton as they had for Obama, she would have won the state.

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