Though Republican election officials in battleground states sought to dampen voter turn out of traditionally Democratic voters through by instituting identification requirements and limiting early voting hours, a new analysis of census data by the Associated Press shows that African Americans “voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time.”
More significantly, the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Colorado would have tipped in favor of Romney, handing him the presidency if the outcome of other states remained the same.
African Americans outperformed their voter share, representing 13 percent of total votes cast in 2012
while making up 12 percent of the population — despite facing great obstacles to exercising the franchise.
A poll conducted by Hart Research poll immediately after the election reported that 22 percent of African-Americans waited 30 minutes or more to vote, compared to just 9 percent of white voters. A more thorough analysis from Massachusetts Institute of Technology confirmed that black and hispanic voters waited nearly twice as long to vote as whites. In Florida, home to the longest lines, at least 201,000 people may have been deterred from voting by the long waits.
Black youth was also far more likely to be asked to show ID, a study by professors at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis found, and many did not even try to vote because they lacked the required identification.
There were hints in Mr. Obama’s speech of potential fault lines in the debate. He declared, for example, that there must be a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants “from the outset.” That would seem at odds with the assertion by some senators that citizenship must be tied to tighter border security.
Although Mr. Obama did not say it in his speech, the White House is also proposing that the United States treat same-sex couples the same as other families, meaning that people would be able to use their relationship as a basis to obtain a visa.
Mr. Obama offered a familiar list of proposals: tightening security on borders, cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers and temporarily issuing more visas to clear the huge backlog of people applying for legal status in the country.
His speech, on the heels of the bipartisan Senate proposal, sets the terms for one of the year’s landmark legislative debates. These are only the opening steps in a complicated dance, and the effort could still founder, as did the effort to overhaul immigration laws in the George W. Bush administration.
But the flurry of activity underscores the powerful new momentum behind an overhaul of the immigration system, after an election that dramatized the vulnerability of Republicans on the issue, with Mr. Obama piling up lopsided majorities over Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters.