The electorate that chose the first non-white president in U.S. history was also the most racially and ethnically diverse in American history; of the record 131 million votes, one-in-four were cast by non-whites. Among the nation’s three biggest minority groups, blacks made up 12.1% of the electorate, Hispanics 7.4% and Asians 2.5%. Whites accounted for 76.3% of all voters, a record-low but higher than their share of the total U.S. population (65.8%). The historic-level of the minority vote is attributable both to increases in the non-white U.S. population as well as higher turnout among minority groups. The levels of participation by black, Hispanic and Asian eligible voters all increased from 2004 to 2008, reducing the voter participation gap between themselves and white eligible voters. In fact, among all racial, ethnic and gender groups, black women had the highest voter turnout rate in November’s election — a first. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.