Explain the importance of race and ethnicity in voting behaviour in the USA (Short Essay)

The USA is made up of various immigrant groups with different cultural identities and traditions. It has assimilated new immigrants, from the first WASP settlers, through waves of European immigration, and more recently to immigrants from Asia and Latin America. The most significant minority racial groups in the American electorate are African-Americans and Hispanics.

The importance of race and ethnicity in voting behaviour stems from the sheer size of minority groups in America. In the 2008 election, white voters only accounted for 76.3% of the electorate. African Americans accounted for 12.1%, Hispanic voters for 7.4% and Asian voters 2.5%. While some analysts feared that the issue of race could work against the Democratic candidate, polling data suggests Obama’s appeal to ethnic minority voters outweighed any drawbacks. Since Roosevelt’s New Deal and the 1960’s Civil Rights movements, African-Americans have given solid support to the Democrats. While collecting 45 per cent of the white vote, Obama also won almost all black votes – which were up by two per cent in total – and two-thirds of Hispanics’ votes. One in five new voters was African American, almost twice the proportion of African American people among the electorate, clearly demonstrating the enthusiasm among young African Americans generated by the campaign.

In conclusion, race has an important influence on voting behaviour due to its significant impact on the way a state votes especially in states with a high proportion of minority voters; in states such as California, Arizona, Texas and New York, Hispanics make up 25% of the population.

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