CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Racial and Ethnic Variations in Support of President Obama and Current Administration

August 2nd, 2012
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Findings from a recent poll commissioned by the Youth Engagement Fund, and analyzed by CIRCLE suggest that African American youth, and to a lesser degree, Hispanic youth, are more supportive of President Obama than White youth.  This data was summarized today at by Michael Cottman. Additional analysis below, and is part of  CIRCLE’s #YouthTruth campaign. The national toplines can be found here.

Candidate Support and Campaign Engagement

Current data from this national poll of young Americans show racial and ethnic variations occur in relation to support of President Obama and the current administration.  When asked whom they would vote for if the election were happening today, 87.5% of Blacks indicated they would definitely or might vote for President Obama compared to 64.4% of Hispanics and 44.0% of Whites. Mitt Romney does not have similar support amongst any group, with 51.2% of Whites indicating they would definitely or might vote for Governor Romney compared to Blacks (17.2%) or Hispanics (32.3%). In fact, 44.9% of Whites indicated that they would definitely or might vote for someone else, which seems to indicate more ambivalence amongst White voters about the two main candidates. 17.1% of Blacks and 29% of Hispanics answered similarly to this question of voting for someone else.

Black and Hispanic youth were also more likely to be excited about a particular candidate (13.7% and 15% respectively) than Whites (7.6%) as a reason to why they would be voting in the election.  But interestingly, Black youth were far less likely to be voting because they want change (8.4%) than Whites and Hispanics (21.7% and 21.4% respectively). This is despite the fact that Blacks were more likely to see voting as a means to affect change than either Hispanics or Whites. Still when asked about involvement in a range of campaign activities, depending on the activity, Blacks were 29% to 71% more likely to be engaged in campaigning or campaign support.

When asked about several traits about candidates (e.g.share your values, can get things done, is honest and trustworthy), Black youth respondents indicated that Barack Obama has all of the positive traits showing strong support across the board. Hispanics were also positively inclined to see Barack Obama as having these strong traits but to a lesser extent than Blacks. Whites were split between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in regard to these questions. In fact, 87.4% of Blacks are satisfied or admiring of the President compared to 63.4% of Hispanics and 36.5% of Whites.

Issues and Institutional Support

Black youth were also the group most likely to think the country was moving in the right direction with 49.8% indicating this was indeed the case.  Only 29.1% of Hispanics and 17.6% Whites thought the country was going in the right direction. Most Whites (52.3%) also indicated that the system was NOT responsive to their needs while Blacks (48.3%) and Hispanics (38.4%) were not sure.

Blacks also had much more positive dispositions about their future with 71.7% of them indicating that they expected to be better off financially than their parents.  This is compared to 55.9% of Hispanics and 50.2% of Whites.  It would seem that Blacks and to some degree Hispanics are feeling more positive about the social, political and economic systems of which they are a part. Blacks were also much more likely to think that as a group, young people have the power to change things in their country with 79.4% expressing this view compared to 67.0% of Whites and 69.0% of Hispanics.

Conversely, White youth seemed more critical of government. 77.8% of Whites felt that the federal deficit is too big compared to 63.6% of Hispanics and 55.8% of Blacks. 59.7% of Whites also felt the government is too big and powerful compared to 50.0% of Hispanics and 43.0% of Blacks.

Party and Ideology

55.4% of Whites identified as Republican or Independent with 34.0% of Hispanics identifying as such.  Only 15.9% of Blacks identified as either Republican or Independent.  Rather, 66.5% of Blacks indicated they were Democrats, compared to 33.0% of Hispanics and 25.2% of Whites.  Ideologically, Blacks were the least conservative of respondents with only 11.0% indicating there were on the conservative spectrum compared to 20.4% of Hispanics and 32.5% of Whites.

Voter ID Laws

Whites were also more likely to see voter ID laws as a means to prevent fraud with 57.3% supporting this view compared to 32.5% of Blacks and 35.0% of Hispanics.

Black and Hispanic voters were far more likely to believe their states required them to show a form of photo ID than their White counterparts. Just over half (51%) of all the Black voters and 35% of the Hispanic voters believed that they were required to show a photo ID.  On the other hand, 29% of non-Hispanic white voters believed that they needed to show a photo ID.

When they chose an answer for the photo ID question, Black and Hispanic voters were more likely to be incorrect than Whites on the photo ID question, and a significant portion of them incorrectly assumed that there was a photo ID requirement when their states did not require a photo ID.  62% of the Hispanic American voters chose an incorrect answer.  Of those who chose an incorrect answer, 90% incorrectly assumed that there was a photo ID requirement. 50% of the black voters who chose a response were incorrect. Of those Black voters who chose a wrong answer 75% incorrectly assumed that there was a photo ID requirement when there wasn’t.


These are some of the results of a CIRCLE poll commissioned by the Youth Engagement Fund and conducted by Knowledge Networks. Knowledge Networks administers nationally representative surveys built on a random sample of households. Recruited households are given Internet access if needed. Between June 22 and July 2, 2012, Knowledge Networks surveyed 1,695 US citizens between the ages of 18 and 29. African Americans, Latinos, and individuals who have never attended college were oversampled, but unless otherwise noted, this press release reports nationally representative statistics. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish.

2 Responses to “Racial and Ethnic Variations in Support of President Obama and Current Administration”

  1. california filipino Says:

    How come these polls don’t include other minority groups like Filipino or simply just Asian? Don’t they make up a 2-digit percentage?

  2. CIRCLE Says:

    Hi there – thanks so much for your question. It’s a good one. Based on CIRCLE Analysis of Census Current Population Survey (CPS) Young Asian American’s make up 4% of the youth 18 to 29 year old population ( In this YEF poll, the sample size for other minority groups were too small, which would make the estimates very inaccurate, which is why we did not report them. Please feel free to contact staff directly with further questions, if you have them! Thanks.