You are viewing:


Information released online from January 20, 2009 to January 20, 2017.
Note: Content in this archive site is not updated, and links may not function. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

2016 Election Update: The Impact of Immigrant Communities on U.S. Elections

Vincent Boudreau, Dean of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York
New York, NY
December 2, 2015

Date: 12/02/2015 Location: New York, NY Description: Vincent Boudreau, Dean of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York, briefs journalists on the U.S. elections at the New York Foreign Press Center. - State Dept Image

2:00 P.M. EST


MS SHIE: So welcome to the New York Foreign Press Center. I’m glad you could come on this rainy, dreary day. We’re really happy to have you. Today we have another briefing in our 2016 election update series.

Today we have Dean Boudreau – Vincent Boudreau, who is the dean of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College. And he’s going to be talking to you today about the impact of immigrant communities on U.S. elections. So Dean Boudreau. Thank you.

MR BOUDREAU: Thank you, everyone. I’m really pleased to be here and will be happy to stay until the last question is asked. I wanted to talk to you really about four separate areas in this area. And the first is I’d like to talk, first of all, about demographic shifts in the United States that will affect this issue – and these are, I think, interesting and substantial. I’d like to talk to a little about where public opinion currently stands and how it operates in the current election. I’d like then to say something about where we are in the current political process and why it’s – it may be a little bit distinct. And then I want to leave a few minutes at the end to talk about how developments like the Paris tragedy has affected the way that immigration plays in the contemporary American election.

So let me start with demographics. And the bottom line here, you’ve probably heard this before, but we are in the midst of a fairly dramatic demographic transition in the United States. By the year 2043, according to most forecasts, we will become a majority-minority nation. There will be more nonwhites in the United States than whites. And while I’m talking about immigration – and we have to be really careful about conflating new arrivals and new Americans with people of specific ethnicities – there is a fairly strong affinity between African American voters, Latino voters, and a body of opinion about immigration.

I’d also like to talk – so let’s start with that, with the demographics. In the last – even the last four years, some of the demographic shifts in important swing states have been fairly dramatic, 2 and 3 percent increases in nonwhite voters. In Pennsylvania it’s about two-and-a-half percent. In Arizona it’s about 3 percent. In states that have been historically important in elections, we’re seeing a pretty rapid rise in nonwhite voters, and this is mainly a rise in Latino voters.

In 2014, California became a majority-minority state of voters. There were more nonwhites than whites in California in 1989, and it took about 15 years for them to reach voting age. And so we’re starting to see this trend across the country.

So this is the first thing that’s important: The raw numbers in the increase in nonwhite voters. But there’s two other things that are important to consider, and one is differential rates of participation. If you think on average, white voters, African American voters, and I’ll use Latino voters as the third category. Latino voters and Asian voters tend to track pretty closely in these numbers. But white voters over the last 12 years have tended to participate – eligible voters – at a rate of 61 to 67 percent in presidential elections. African American voters participated about 57 to 65 percent. And Latino and Asian voters have participated at about 45 to 50 percent. So there is a gap between what we’re seeing demographically and what the immediate electoral impact of these demographic shifts are.

And then the third thing to take into account – raw numbers, participation rates – is: can we assume that a rise in nonwhite voters means rising sympathy for immigration reform? And the answer has been over the last 12 years more or less yes. But that’s not true historically. And what that means really is that politics, the way that the election is carried out, the rhetoric the candidates use, really matter.

In 2004, 40 percent of the Latino and Asian voters voted for George W. Bush, voted for the Republican Party. Subsequently, that number for both categories has fallen to 26 percent and that has an awful lot to do with shifts in the rhetoric in immigration. And so three things really matter: the raw numbers, which is a demographic fact; the rate and character of participation, which has an awful lot to do with the organizational apparatus, political parties and the like assembled around elections; and then where these communities are going to break in terms of who they vote for.

I think it’s probably relevant to recall that in the aftermath of the last presidential election, there were only 11 percent – 11 percent of the people that voted for Mitt Romney, for the presidential candidate from the Republican Party, were not white, and so there was a tremendous amount of analysis and soul searching within the Republican Party in the immediate aftermath that said we have to start reaching out to nonwhite communities. And the single most important issue that people grabbed onto in that effort was immigration reform. They felt that that was the issue that was going to allow them to cast a broader net and bring more Latino and Asian and African American voters into their camp. That is a – that’s a conversation that today feels like a fairly old conversation. It feels like a conversation that’s not guarding – that’s not guiding Republican Party politics. But that number, 11 percent of people who voted for the Republican presidential candidate were nonwhite, is a really important one to bear in mind.

I’d like to talk a little bit now on the second – the second part of the briefing is voter opinion. And I want to take on both this issue of can we just assume that a Latino voter or an African American voter is going to be in favor of immigration reform, but then also examine the body of opinion behind some of the more conservative positions that we’ve been hearing in the election, like Donald Trump’s call for massive deportations.

And let’s start with that. If you take the first three primary states that all the candidates are currently preparing for – the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire, and South Carolina – there’s a fairly small body of opinion – of people who agree with the massive deportation argument that Donald Trump has been making: between 17 and 20 percent of registered Republicans; more than 50 percent favor some kind of path to citizenship. So this is – so in a way, the body of opinion that agrees on that specific policy is relatively narrow. And one wonders why that way of describing immigration policy has captured so much attention in the current presidential debate. I think there’s a way of explaining that.

And the first is that very, very often when – at this stage in an American election, people are trying to figure out who the candidates are. There’s a lot of information. There are many, many Republican candidates, and so people are looking maybe less for the answer to a specific policy and more for an indication of what kind of a candidate a person is. And so when somebody says massive irrevocable deportation of all the undocumented aliens, or the phrase that you hear is “illegal immigrants,” one of the things that signals is resolve, strength, decisiveness at a time when many American voters complain that our government is deadlocked. And it also tends to signal a range of other conservative values and commitments.

In 2007, when John McCain was preparing his run for the presidency and was talking an awful lot about the need for comprehensive immigration reform, his poll numbers plummeted. Similarly, in 2013, when Marco Rubio championed an immigration bill, his poll numbers plummeted not because people specifically were making a decision on that, but it called into question a whole range of other conservative values and commitments. You will hear, if you pay attention to the debates right now, accusations flying back and forth within the Republican Party about who is in favor of amnesty, and in fact, in many cases the provisions they’re talking about look nothing like amnesty. In the 2013 bill, amnesty would require that you had been in the country for 13 years, learned English, paid a fine, had steady employment. But the way it’s being described is doesn’t matter how you got here, it doesn’t matter what kind of a person you are, you’re simply forgiven. And if you think about the values that that invokes, it invokes lack of responsibility and inability to enforce our laws, and again, signaling a broader set of conservative commitments.

By the same token, I think we can’t – we can’t forget at a time in our political process – Iowa, New Hampshire in particular, and then into South Carolina – where Republican candidates feel like they’re speaking to a fairly small, fairly white, fairly conservative population, that the things they saw will live on through this whole election. And I’ll talk a little bit about where we are in the electoral process. But the time is coming when the whole American electorate – Republicans and Democrats are going to be making choices about who they’re going to vote for for the presidential election, and there’s a real legitimate question about the damage that is done to a candidate’s broad appeal when they try to appeal to a very narrow conservative group on immigration issues early on in the process.

I’d like now to talk about the – where we are in candidate rhetoric and in our political process. And this may be a review for many of you, but the American presidential process is a little bit of a peculiar one. We’re in about a one-year cycle where within the party – all the elections that are happening over the next couple of months, the state-by-state primaries, are within the political parties. And so what happens typically at that stage in the election is that candidates appeal to what we call their political base. So in the Republican Party, that means the candidates tend to compete for conservative voters. And what you find in the Democratic Party by and large is that candidates strike a more liberal tone – “liberal” in the American sense of the word, which is to say less conservative.

When we get to the general election, the two parties have – will have cornered the market on liberal votes in the Democratic Party, conservative votes in the Republican Party, and the competition starts to be a competition for the political center. So we’re at a stage in a very, very long electoral process where what you hear out of Republican Party candidates is directed at a conservative base. And there’s a little bit less at the moment of a specific directing of Democratic candidates to a liberal base. And in the past, what happened in this primary season is that that shift in political tone tended to be a little bit less dramatic than it is right now, and there’s a number of reasons why it’s, I think, quite dramatic now.

The first is, as you probably know, over the last five or six years within the Republican Party, an organizational force that is strongly conservative, referred to as the Tea Party, has really established a presence in the party and has unseated many, many well-established, more moderate incumbent presidential candidates. And the second is that we have – one of the effects of the new media in American politics is it used to be there were three television stations that people listened to, and so Walter Cronkite or Tom Brokaw spoke to the entire American people. Now more and more people looking for political news are able to select liberal or conservative news, and so instead of gathering together in a public square where opinions are shared, they flock together in ideologically homogeneous groupings where they kind of talk to each other in an echo chamber. And so for all of these reasons, the effort to appeal to a conservative base in particular on issues of immigration is stronger and a little bit more resilient.

That said, we shouldn’t forget how early we are in the process. In 2004* at exactly this time, Rudy Giuliani was ahead of the Republican field with a fairly conservative political program. He was leading by 26 percent of the vote. John McCain, the eventual winner, was in fourth place and largely counted out of the contest. So we’ve been talking about this election for a very, very long time, but not a single vote has been cast yet, and it’ll be a long time until the candidates are even selected. And so in some sense, what we’re looking at is the positioning of the candidates for the long haul, and one of the things to look for is which of the more or less establishment Republican Party candidates – it’s a simpler field on the Democratic side – are going to be the alternative to Donald Trump. Who will last? Will it Senator Rubio, Senator Cruz, former Governor Bush, or some of the other candidates?

I guess the final thing to talk about in terms of the political process is that both parties are themselves internally divided on immigration, and this is a point that sometimes gets drowned out in the debates. In the Republican Party, there is a fairly strong, although at this stage in the political process fairly quiet, group of businesspeople who depend on the labor that new Americans bring, and I mean both at the top end of the socioeconomic spectrum and at the bottom end. So people – manual labor, but also people who are coming in in technology, who are educated, who are bringing innovation. The flow of labor from the rest of the world has always been a kind of economic advantage for the United States, and there is a strong body of opinion in the Republican Party that values that. And so, again, within the party there is a division between people who are at least in their public pronouncements fairly hostile to immigration and a group of people who are not.

And the same is true – again, with less clearly drawn boundaries – within the Democratic Party. If you look at the debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Bernie Sanders, who has really always emphasized domestic economic issues, is the candidate that is at least asking the question about what the relationship is between strong immigration and the availability of American jobs. And so you – again, you get that kind of split in the parties.

Finally, I guess, voter mobilization deeply, deeply matters. As I said earlier, nationally, Latino voters participate in national elections at a rate of between about 45 and 49 percent. In Texas, which has a massive Latino population, 61 percent of eligible voters didn’t vote in the last presidential election. This represents about 3 million voters that were not involved in the presidential election. Of that group, 38 percent say that if the Republican Party had come out with comprehensive immigration reform, they would have been inclined to at least strongly consider a Republican Party vote. And that same group says if not, then not. So a recent study – Texas has in the last decades been a fairly secure and fairly important battleground state for the Republican Party. If the non-participating Latino voters were mobilized, that would move that state much, much closer to a state that’s very much in play.

And I say voter mobilization matters not just – we’re not just saying that whether or not people decide to vote matters. Of those Latino voters in Texas, only 25 percent in the last presidential election were contacted by an organizer from either political party – from either one. So you have 39 percent of the eligible voters voting; 36 percent of those who voted voted for the Republican Party, the rest voted for the Democratic Party. Just a brief kind of point of comparison: In Arizona, 53 percent of Latino voters were approached by organizers – mainly Democratic organizers. 52 percent of them participated in the last political – presidential election. Only 10 percent of the participants voted for the Republican Party. So there is a sense in which the electoral strategy, what we call the ground game – who you mobilize, how you mobilize – is going to really matter because there’s such a big gap in the demographic numbers and the participation numbers.

But where these votes are going to go, in which direction they’re going to break, is going to have an awful lot to do with the way the immigration rhetoric sorts out. I said earlier that we are coming to a point where both parties, having selected their candidates, are going to turn to the political center. For the last three or four elections, there has been a fairly stable, largely even division between people who will always vote for the Republican Party, will always vote for the Democratic Party, or in any other case stay home, and a fairly narrow group of voters in the middle. When attention turns to that middle ground, among populations who are not in favor of massive deportation, who are largely in favor of some kind of a path to citizenship, the legacy of the opinions created and the tapes that were made and the Twitter postings that came out of these quiet – seemingly quiet conversations in New Hampshire and Iowa are likely to work, in effect.

So let me say one last thing about shifts in the discourse and the context. In American public debate – this goes back to the policies of the Eisenhower Administration in the 1950s all the way up through the last couple of decades – when opponents of immigration speak publicly about why immigration is bad, they settle on three things. They say that immigrants take American jobs, they say that immigrants pose security threats, and they say that immigrants in some way dilute American culture – that they are not assimilable, they don’t learn our language, we are becoming something different than what we were.

In the early stages of this election, Donald Trump, who really put immigration on the agenda in this election – in 2013, when American voters in New Hampshire and Iowa were asked about what issues were the most important to them, immigration didn’t make it on their top five, and now it’s in the top three issues in those states largely because Donald Trump insisted on putting it there. His first cut was really to play the security card. There’s a fairly well-reviewed comment about Mexican immigrants, some of them not being rapists but probably most of them are – this kind of insinuation. And it was an effort to invoke a fear of security that was consequent of largely Mexican immigration. And it didn’t play well. It didn’t play well within his party, it didn’t play well in the Democratic Party, and he was roundly criticized for it.

In important ways, the attacks in Paris have put that conversation back on the agenda, where people now really from across the political spectrum, including some of the Democratic candidates, are being much more careful about the way they talk about the relationship with immigration policy and refugee policy. And you’ll see these two terms starting to slide together in the next couple of weeks – refugees and immigrants posing a security threat.

And this has done a number of things. I mean, I think one of the things that we are all looking for is to see how this way of framing the question influences some of the other coalitions that form around this issue. Is it the kind of positioning that would, for instance, make immigration reform a less vital part of a Latino political agenda? Or is it the kind of positioning that people will be concerned about for a little while, then go back to some of their core concerns?

One of the immediate consequences of immigrant-as-refugee-as-security-threat – that framing of the issue – is that it’s actually revitalized a number of the candidacies of people who are governors. There is this call from American governors or a pledge from American governors to say we won’t let refugees settle in our states, and this has really – even yesterday, Chris Christie of New Jersey, who had fallen so far in the polls that he wasn’t actually part of the main presidential debate last time, was talking about not allowing Syrian refugees to be settled in his state. Now, there is probably no constitutional basis for a governor not allowing people to settle in his or her state. We can move freely between our borders, so it’s an empty threat, but it’s an ability to position yourself as the executive of a state and to, again, strike a pose of doing something decisive in the name of security. And so I think one of the things that we’re all looking for is how this way of describing immigration is going to play in the American electorate.

I think this is probably where I’m going to end my initial briefing. I’ve probably talked for long enough, and I’d be happy to take questions from you.

MS SHIE: Any questions?

QUESTION: Is it on? Yes it is. James Reinl with Mideast Eye. Thanks so much for the briefing; it was really interesting and thorough. Maybe you could just tell us a little bit more about the subject that you got onto at the end: Syria, the refugees, what Donald Trump said, and maybe the other side of it. You spoke about Hispanic voters, but what about Arab American voters or Muslim voters? Do they make up enough of a chunk of the population – I know they’re quite small, but are there enough to have any kind of a particular voice in the next election?

MR BOUDREAU: Yeah, it’s – that’s a really good question. They don’t in – if – and in fact, we just had somebody in the seminar I’m running up at City College last night talking about this, that they really don’t show up even in the way we track electoral statistics until a year or two ago, and it’s a very, very small percentage of the voters – less than 2 percent of the voters at this point.

It matters more, I think, though, as – I talked earlier about signaling, and I think this is a really important moment for people who are trying to figure out how they might be treated by an administration thinking about how Arab Americans, Muslim Americans are being caught up in this. Donald Trump talked about the possibility of closing mosques, and then he kind of doubled down about the need to go in and close mosques down and root people out. I mean, there’s a kind of an irony here that you have from a political party that’s really made as its single, most consistent complaint that the government is ineffective and it can’t do anything and we should have less government, all of a sudden saying that the one thing we’re going to allow government to do is to go in in our society and sort 11 million illegal aliens out and to remove them in a way that’s accurate, effective, and doesn’t violate civil rights and our laws.

But I think this: I think the real impact of Arab Americans and Muslim Americans is as an indication to a body of voters about how they might be treated by a Trump administration or by another administration. There’s a fair amount of emerging evidence where you look at the hypothesis, like if African Americans and Latino Americans are the ones who might most frequently be competing for jobs with new immigrants, isn’t it the case that at times when the economy is in bad shape, in protecting their own interests, there would be an escalation in anti-immigrant sentiment among these populations? We see exactly the opposite. We see that when times are bad, there is a sense that these kinds of people are kindred, and so an attack on the rights or prospects of Latinos or Arab Americans is very, very often seen as a good indication of how people would treat broader issues of civil liberties, civil rights, opportunity, these kinds of things.

QUESTION: Can I? Hey, Morten with Dagens Naeringsliv, a Norwegian business daily. I was curious about what you said about the Romney vote, how much Romney got of the Latin American vote – 11 percent, right? So what’s that --

MR BOUDREAU: Sorry, not Latin American vote, of the nonwhite vote.

QUESTION: Nonwhite voters.

MR BOUDREAU: So this is African Americans, Asians, Latinos – 11 percent of that whole – of his – of those who voted for him were not white.

QUESTION: Right. Was that due to the Obama effect or is that the level it’s been at for several --

MR BOUDREAU: No, no, not at all. George Bush, in 2004, got 44 percent of that same – of that same vote.


MR BOUDREAU: Sorry, yeah, 44 percent of that same vote. It’s a little bit – a little bit the Obama effect, certainly. I mean, he was a tremendously exciting candidate. But there is also this moment in the Mitt Romney campaign, and it was a moment like I’ve been describing, where he was with a group of – it was a small fundraising group; it was a group that he imagined were all his supporters, where he thought he could probably talk privately, and he was asked about his policy for immigrants. And he said, “Well, essentially, we will make life so difficult for them that they will self-deport.” And I think that had a tremendous impact on his support among certainly Latinos, but across the spectrum of minority voters in this country.

And what’s interesting about that, and if you look at over the last couple of days, the conversations, particularly between Senator Rubio and Senator Cruz, about who is in favor of amnesty and what is your policy really – neither of them would be so foolish as to use the term “self-deport,” “self-deportation.” But what they say is strengthen the border first, establish a very, very strong e-verification system that would prevent people from getting jobs, and then little by little you see them start to go home on their own. So without using the phrase, we’re essentially back to that same idea. And pretty soon, somebody is going to start calling this self-deportation, and once that’s linked to the Romney campaign, it’s going to be a – if it sticks, it’s going to be a tremendous victory for whoever does that.

QUESTION: You mean Rubio, then?

MR BOUDREAU: No, it is --

QUESTION: You said Romney.

MR BOUDREAU: No, if they link it to the Romney campaign of --


MR BOUDREAU: -- 2012, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

QUESTION: I was also – could I follow up, please? I was also curious if – so I understand you – that another way that it’s GOP’s – they are to lose if – just due to the simple math of this, right, since they are alienating the Latin American and the nonwhite. But could it also be that they are activating the white rural vote that doesn’t usually vote in elections, so that it compensates for the Latin American votes and the nonwhite votes they are losing?

MR BOUDREAU: Yeah. I mean, I think this is the important thing with all of this – and what I think should stand behind everything that I’ve said here is that there’s an awful lot of play for strategy and who gets mobilized, who doesn’t get mobilized. The truth of the matter is that as long as participation rates along nonwhite voters are as low as they are in some places, there’s always an opportunity to sort of speak to one constituency and not activate another. But it’s a tricky game to play. It is absolutely as possible that the anti-immigrant rhetoric will mobilize people in favor of immigration reform if there is a party or a candidate, either within the Republican Party or outside it, that’s willing to say, “I am actually the candidate that believes there’s a place for new Americans and that we need a reasonable process to take people who have lived here for a long time and bring them to citizenship.”

And the other thing that’s important is that the percentage of white voters – and we know that as a percentage of the electorate it’s falling as the percentage of nonwhite voters falls. The other thing that’s happening is that educational attainment in white and nonwhite communities is rising as well, and there is a pretty close correlation between higher education and a move into the Democratic Party. So within the Republican Party, there is – I mean, I wouldn’t say that it’s deep concern right now, but there are trends that are even reducing their show – their share of white voters because of that.

So I think it’s a dangerous game to play, and I think, again, if we go back to the analysis in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 election, across the board in the Republican Party what they were saying is, “We can’t keep talking to white voters. We’ve got to start figuring out how we speak to a broader electorate.”

MS SHIE: Okay. We’ll go to Washington, D.C. for the next question.

QUESTION: Hi. I would like you to talk a little bit more farther on – regarding the African American electoral behavior, okay, historically and now. And just to say, they have a relatively low participation rate in the elections. If this participation rate increased, also the roll numbers increase in the – among the African American people, how does – how this would influence the message of the Republican Party? And also, if that would explain some measures that are taking place in Alabama and other southern states in order to prevent African American people to have access to vote – for example, reducing the ID offices where they can take the driving licenses, for example. I mean, is there a reaction from the Republican Party against this increased population of nonwhite voters that can influence the Republican Party in the future, their electoral expectations?


QUESTION: It was a very long question and (inaudible).

MR BOUDREAU: It is a very long – with a number of parts. Let me see – remind me – if I miss any of the parts, please remind me what I’ve missed.

Yeah, I think that – I mean, I think that’s right. There have been allegation, both at state levels, where increased laws for voter IDs have generally been regarded as limiting the participation of particularly African American voters. We have a system in the United States where, in most states, you need to register for an election weeks or months ahead of the actual election itself. And it is a separate process than doing things like getting a driver’s license or simply turning 18.

So there is this kind of organizational barrier that you have to climb over in order to participate in an election, and it’s interesting. In the cases where states have decided to make electoral participation an easier thing, the electoral turnout and the consequences of election have changed in sometimes surprising ways. The classic example of this was in Minnesota where they one year decided that if you had a driver’s license, you would be registered for – to vote, what they call the motor voter law. And the immediate consequence of that, first of all, was that electoral participation rates across all demographics increased, and they elected a professional wrestler as their governor. (Laughter.)

So it – but what it does is it takes the kind of closed political – and this is not to say that that’s a consequence of broadening electoral participation, but what it does say is that we have a political process that in some respects puts these sorts of structural barriers in front of participation. And people understand that those structural barriers fall more heavily on communities of color and on working communities than on more affluent, whiter voting populations. And so it’s not a surprise, I think, sometimes that when people try to impose more of these conditions and restrictions, it is often an effort – a thinly veiled effort, but a veiled effort to change the composition of the people that turn out at the polls.

And one of the things that you see all the time is people will claim that this is to prevent voter fraud, that there are allegations of people voting two and three times and massive voter fraud. There’s never been a convincing case to – that there is any kind of a systematic effort to have people vote more than one or two times. But I’ll tell you, the – probably the more important effort to make sure that the nonwhite voting population has a lower impact is on this process of redistricting that happens periodically within states where you can redraw the boundaries around electoral districts.

And so what happens very, very often is if you have a – in Texas, this is an important dynamic. If you have a Latino population that is spread out over territory, you try to draw the lines so that they’re concentrated in one district, and that means in that district, you will certainly have a Latino candidate elected or someone who favors Latino issues. But in all the neighboring districts, what you’ve essentially done is move the Latinos out of that district, and so you have what they call a safe district.

So in Texas, many, many – there are only about 25 percent of the state districts that are competitive because of redistricting. So it’s – the efforts to restrict who votes and what kinds of people vote I think is an element of the response to the demographic shifts I was talking about.

Did I miss another part of the question?

QUESTION: So I assume that African American people historically has always voted for the Democrats, yeah? And this is going to happen also in the future? I mean, you are --

MR BOUDREAU: A little --

QUESTION: -- is there (inaudible) a shift expected in their electoral behavior? That’s what I’m --

MR BOUDREAU: Yeah, it’s – I mean, the answer is yes, but it’s not written in stone. And I think political parties sometimes assume that they don’t really have to address one constituency or another because historically they’ve always voted for that party. The numbers are pretty clear, though. In 2004, 11 percent of African American voters voted for George Bush. That number dropped to 6 percent that voted for the Republican candidate in 2012. That’s still a fairly narrow range of support. It would be interesting to see what a Ben Carson candidacy would do for those numbers, but he seems to be dropping in the polls so we may not have an opportunity to test that out.

I did want to – I did want to say, though, that one of the premises in the question was that African American voting turnout is relatively low, and the answer is that registration rates tend to be historically low. But of registered African American voters, nobody participates at a higher rate than they do except for white voters. They participated at a range from 57 to 65 percent as compared to 61 to 67 percent among white voters. And no single constituency vote – of registered voters vote at a higher rate than African American women. It is the highest participating rate of eligible registered voters in the United States.

And this has an awful lot to do with the role that the vote played in the African American civil rights struggle. It’s a very important thing in that – in the African American political community.

MS SHIE: Questions? Any other questions in Washington, D.C.? Okay. Well, thank you very much. I know that Dean Boudreau is available now after the briefing for some of you who wanted to do a one-on-one interview. Thank you for coming.

MR BOUDREAU: Thank you, everybody.

QUESTION: Thanks, Dean.

# # #