“African Americans” is a trending topic on Twitter right now, thanks in large part to tweets repeating the claim that only 4.7% (or, in some tweets, 4% or 5% or 10%) of blacks bothered to vote yesterday.
But it’s not true. None of it is anywhere close to true.
The real number is about 34%.
Official stats on voting by race aren’t kept, but from exit polls, vote totals, and census information, you can estimate this stuff pretty well. About 38% of the voting age population of the United States turned out to vote in yesterday’s election. There are about 26.5 million African Americans of voting age in the United States. According to exit poll data, blacks made up about 10% of the total electorate this year. About 90 million people voted in this election, and if 10% of them were black, that makes 9 million. Nine million is 34% of 26.5 million.
In other words, about a third of black adults voted this year, a percentage that’s only slightly lower than the population as a whole.
So where did the 4.7% thing come from? A tweet posted yesterday evening seems to be the source. That tweet, as you can see, is only about Wisconsin, and the guy who tweeted it later clarified that he was only referring to Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.
But even that doesn’t make any sense, for a bunch of reasons. But it turns out that Wisconsin’s population is about 6% black, which means that if blacks in Wisconsin were voting at slightly lower numbers than whites, they could easily make up about 4.7% of the total vote in the state.
I can’t prove it yet, but I’m betting someone posted that stat somewhere, someone else misread it, and that’s how this whole thing got started.