By: Kurt Metzger, Director
One of the narratives that has come front and center in the last two Presidential Elections is that of race in America, with an emphasis on its role in the American political landscape .The 2008 election of Barack Obama was marked by increasing voter turnout rates for African Americans and younger voters. As these trends went against historical trends, many “students of voter behavior” were curious whether these trends would continue in the Congressional election of 2010 and the Presidential election of 2012.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution and a friend of Data Driven Detroit, analyzed the 2012 elections for the Associated Press using census data on eligible voters and turnout, along with November’s exit polling. He estimated total votes for Obama and Romney under a scenario where 2012 turnout rates for all racial groups matched those in 2004. Overall, 2012 voter turnout was roughly 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.
The results of his analysis suggested that America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012, and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time. This reflected a polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while some whites stayed home. Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly.
Confirmation of the Obama Effect
Wednesday May 8th’s release by the Census Bureau confirms Frey’s research and other surveys estimating a rise in African American voting in the last 2 presidential elections. Results of the 2012 Current Population Survey show that African Americans turned out to vote in 2012 at rates higher than any other race/ethnic group for the first time since the Census Bureau began collecting voting data by citizenship in 1996.
The 2012 results, in Figure 1, show that African American voter turnout exceeded that of White, non-Hispanics by 2.1 percent! This compares with a rate that had run 5 to 7 percentage points behind whites from 1996 through 2004. The first election of Barack Obama in 2008 brought with it a 4.7 percentage point increase for African Americans and a 1.1 percentage point decrease for whites. While white turnout took another 2 percent drop in 2012, African Americans increased by another 1.5 percentage points.
“The 2012 turnout is a milestone for blacks and a huge potential turning point,” said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University who has written extensively on black politicians. “What it suggests is that there is an ‘Obama effect’ where people were motivated to support Barack Obama. But it also means that black turnout may not always be higher, if future races aren’t as salient.”
Changing Demographics & Future Elections
Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Overall, the findings represent a tipping point for blacks, who for much of America’s history were disenfranchised and then effectively barred from voting until passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.
The numbers also offer a cautionary note to both Democrats and Republicans after Obama won in November with a historically low percentage of white supporters. While Latinos are now the biggest driver of U.S. population growth, they still trail whites and blacks in turnout and electoral share, because many of the Hispanics in the country are children or noncitizens.
The Asian and Latino populations continued to show turnout rates below 50 percent. This is not a factor of eligibility, however, because the Census Bureau has used a measure of citizenship to determine the eligible electorate.
It is clear that this new information will be critical inputs to the strategies pursued by both political parties. The increasing diversity of our electorate, marked by a slow growth African American population, a medium growth, immigration-based, Asian population, and a high growth, non-citizen Hispanic/Latino population, requires strategic investment on both sides of the political spectrum.
The turnout rates seen below bring forth a number of questions.
- The white, non-Hispanic population is aging and decreasing in numbers. Was it the candidate choice that resulted in their decreased turnout or something else?
- Will the increasing turnout of African Americans continue if there is no African American in the next Presidential race?
- What are the strategies that need to be followed in order to get greater turnout for Asians and Latinos?
African American turnout, which trailed non-Hispanic whites by 7.7 percentage points in 1996, surpassed them by 2.1 percentage points in 2012. Both Asian and Latino turnout rates, while showing some variability over the years, have not moved in comparison to 1996 – still trailing non-Hispanic Whites by 17 and 16 percent, respectively.
Figure 2 provides one more way of looking at the 2012 results. Here we are comparing each group’s share of the electorate (eligible voters) with their share of actual voters. It is clear that both non-Hispanic Whites and African Americans are over-represented as voters, while Asians and Latinos are under-represented.
Gender’s Effect of Voter Turnout
There are subtexts to these trends and those involve the gender and age composition of voters within each of the major race/ethnic groups. Voting rates have historically varied according to gender. In every presidential election since 1996, women have voted at higher rates than men. The 2012 election produced a gap in the favor of women of some 4 percentage points. We can understand this gap in greater detail by looking at it across race and Hispanic origin.
Figure 3 provides a comparison of female voting rates to male voting rates. The differential for African Americans is by far the greatest and has remained high throughout the 16 year period. The 2012 differential was the highest over this period – 8.7 percentage points. The gap for non-Hispanic Whites has been consistent across the period and averaged less than half that for African Americans. While the gap for Latinos has decreased over the years, the Asian gap, which was the only to ever favor men, has increased to be close to that for non-Hispanic Whites.
Youth Today: What happened to the 18-24 year old voters?
We finish up this analysis with a quick look at age trends. In 2012, overall turnout rates decreased in comparison with both 2004 and 2008, a drop in voting characterized by large decreases in youth voting rates for all race groups and Hispanics. Statistically significant voting rate decreases were observed in the 18 to 24 years cohort across all three groups – non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks and Hispanics. The Census Bureau was not able to track age patterns within the Asian community.
What happened to the young voters who made all the noise in 2008? Have they lost their passion through voter-based civic engagement? How do candidates at all levels of government re-engage the young voter?
These data provide a great deal of food for thought. Data Driven Detroit is working diligently to provide web-based tools and resources for the elections of 2013. Detroit will be electing a new Mayor and a district-based City Council. D3 and the Michigan Nonprofit Association want to make sure that we do everything we can to get out the vote in November. Detroit has an opportunity to show that its citizens are engaged and ready to move the city forward.
Join us in that effort.
 His analysis also used population projections to estimate the shares of eligible voters by race group through 2030. The numbers are supplemented with material from the Pew Research Center and George Mason University associate professor Michael McDonald, a leader in the field of voter turnout who separately reviewed aggregate turnout levels across states, as well as AP interviews with the Census Bureau and other experts. The bureau is scheduled to release data on voter turnout in May (which I detail in a moment).
By: D3 Staff
Mario Goetz joined the D3 team in January as a Semester in Detroit Intern. Mario is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in History and Social Theory in Practice at the University of Michigan. Outside of class, Mario referees youth soccer, and taught English as a Second Language classes in Ypsilanti and Southwest Detroit. As a Spanish speaker, he also lived in Quito, Ecuador for six weeks, teaching math and writing to sixth.
Detroit has provided an ideal location to gain first-hand experience in applying skills he learned in school to a real world environment. Mario assisted Project Manager Jeff Bross with preliminary research for D3’s upcoming workshops on the relationship between sustainability data and ongoing planning and policy efforts. He also had the opportunity to expand his experience using mapping software to visualize data, which helped provide a new perspective on Detroit. “The energy in the D3 office has made the working environment very exciting,” says Mario. While he is still unsure what he would like to do with his degree after graduating in 2015, Mario is considering a career in urban planning or transportation research, and he hopes to continue working in a major city.
We would like to thank Mario for his dedication and for all the work he accomplished here at D3!
By: D3 Staff
This Q&A is the fourth in a series of profiles of Data Driven Detroit staff members.
Rob Linn sports many hats in life; GIS Analyst, author and developer. Rob’s love for planning flourished while interning for the City of Detroit under Gregory Parrish, D3′s Data and Technology Manager. He was first introduced to D3 while working as a surveyor for the Detroit Residential Parcel Survey. Then, after Gregory left the City of Detroit, he asked Rob to join him at D3, and it was an invitation he couldn’t refuse. Land use planning data is Rob’s “bailiwick” but he also focuses on neighborhood planning, real estate and economic developments. Rob and his siblings, Andy and Emily Linn, recently published Detroit’s first comprehensive guidebook to the city, Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider’s Guide to Detroit. Rob is also the co-recipient of the 2012 “It’s About Place” grant, a Let’s Save Michigan Contest, to develop an outdoor movie theatre in Detroit’s Woodbridge neighborhood.
D3′s resident goofball & GIS Analyst, Rob Linn
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Detroit’s Berry Subdivision neighborhood.
Where did you go to school?
I went to the University of Michigan’s Honors and Residential Colleges for undergrad and the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning for a Master’s in Urban Planning (MUP). Go Blue!
What is your degree in? Why did you choose your degree?
My BA is in economics and urban studies, and my MUP concentration was Community and Economic Development. Although I went to college with high hopes of studying environmental science, I quickly fell for urban studies/urban planning. I think I loved it because, for me, it was at the intersection of so many of my academic interests, such as geography, history, economics, statistics, sociology, design, and policy.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us?
I’m a certified FCC broadcaster, and have lived nearly 10% of my life in a tent.
What is your history with Detroit?
On my maternal grandmother’s side of the family, I’m a seventh generation Detroiter, and except for a brief stint in Ann Arbor for school, I’ve lived here all of my life.
What did you do before working at D3?
Immediately before coming to D3, I was a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Michigan, working with Professor Margaret Dewar on issues surrounding vacant and tax-reverted properties. Although most of my recent work is in the urban planning sphere, I’ve had a range of gigs in the past, including work as a forestry educator, love and dating advice radio show host, boiler inspector, bike mechanic, property surveyor, and line cook.
What do you like about working at D3? How do you think the work you are doing benefits the city/region?
To me, there are few things more satisfying than developing a novel dataset from scratch and putting it to use in supporting communities. In an area like Southeast Michigan, where so many municipalities and community groups are struggling with decreasing budgets, I feel as though spatial and numeric data can help leaders better target resources.
What is your favorite D3 map or data visualization?
I’ve always had an eye for composite index maps, and I really like the citywide neighborhood typology maps D3 created for CDAD. Historically, my favorite data visualizations are Henry Charles Beck’s 1931 Tube Map and all of those from Charles Joseph Minard.
What is your favorite type of data?
I love looking for patterns or trends in just about any type of data, although nothing gets my blood flowing like public spatial data.
Who or what inspired you to take the path to Detroit, data or both?
Detroit inspired me to take the path to Detroit! I’ve never seen another place that at once offers so many opportunities and interesting people.
By: Kurt Metzger, Director
The Census Bureau has released its latest population estimates for 2012 today. The estimates cover metropolitan statistical areas, micropolitan statistical areas and counties. The numbers show that the Great Plains and West Texas contained many of the fastest growing areas in the country, including Casper, Wyoming and Bismarck, North Dakota. Why you may ask? The answer from Bureau staff is…”There are probably many factors fueling this growth on the prairie, but no doubt the energy boom is playing a role. For instance, the Permian Basin, located primarily in West Texas, and North Dakota accounted for almost half of the total U.S. growth in firms that mine or extract oil and gas, during a recent one-year period.”
The Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas are estimated to have gained more than 100,000 residents between 2011 and 2012. All four are among the five largest metros in the country. The fifth one (ranked #3) is Chicago, which gained just under 27,000.
The greatest percentage gains were generally experienced by the smaller, lower ranked metros, among which were Midland and Odessa, Texas; Clarksville, Tennessee; Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin and The Villages in Florida; Jacksonville, North Carolina; and Casper, Wyoming. The largest metro to join the percentage gainers was Austin-Round Rock, Texas, which gained almost 54,000 residents and held its ranking of 35th out of 381.
Needless to say, no Michigan metros, micros or counties made it on any of the top growth lists. Nevertheless, there were interesting stories to be found in the numbers. Michigan has a role to play, with seven of its fifteen metropolitan areas1 experiencing population growth over the last year. Table 1 presents the results for those areas.
Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Population of Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012
The Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area2 led all others with the addition of 9,194 residents. What is more significant is the fact that it passed the 1 million population mark and joined 51 other areas (it ranks 52nd) in this elite group. Other momentous population achievements were Los Angeles passing 13 million, Philadelphia passing 6 million and Las Vegas reaching 2 million.
The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn metropolitan area also experienced population growth for a change, adding 4,094 residents. It saw a split in the fortunes of its component counties, with large gains in Oakland, Macomb and Livingston counties, a small gain in Lapeer, and large losses in Wayne and St. Clair counties. In spite of this growth, the metropolitan area’s national ranking dropped from 13th to 14th as the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ metropolitan area passed it by with the addition of 77,456 residents.
The other Michigan metros to add over 1,000 residents were the one-county Ann Arbor metro (up 2,309) and the two-county Kalamazoo-Portage metro (up 1,681) where the attraction of the Kalamazoo Promise outweighed losses in neighboring Van Buren County.
The largest population loss was experienced by the Flint metropolitan area where Genesee County dropped by 3,645 residents, primarily due to a net flow of more than 4,500 residents out of the county. This loss resulted in the largest ranking change of any Michigan metros and one of the largest in the country. Flint’s rank dropped four spots from 121st to 125th. Its ranking after the 2010 Census was 116th.
A total of 26 out of Michigan’s 83 counties gained population over the 2011-12 period. They were led by Oakland, Kent, Macomb, Ottawa and Washtenaw. A listing of the top 15 growth counties is shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Top 15 Michigan Population Growth Counties Between 2011 and 2012
Outmigration was the driving force leading to county population losses, seen in Table 3. Wayne County experienced a slight decrease in its net migration from previous years, but it was only enough to keep population loss below 10,000. The single county metros made up of Genesee, Saginaw, Bay, Monroe, Berrien and Calhoun all showed up in the list of major population losers. They were joined by a mix of outlying metro counties (St. Clair and Van Buren), several micropolitan counties (Shiawassee, Lenawee and Hillsdale) and four non-metro counties.
Table 3. Top 15 Michigan Population Loss Counties Between 2011 and 2012
Data Driven Detroit will be posting complete files for all U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan areas, as well as U.S. counties on our website by the end of this week. In the coming months, the Census Bureau will release 2012 estimates of the total population of cities and towns, as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin. You will be the first to know how Michigan is measuring up.
 A complete list of metropolitan and micropolitan areas can be found on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.
 The composition of the metro area has changed based on the new metropolitan area definitions released by the federal government of February 28, 2013. See the Office of Management and Budget Bulletin for details.
By: D3 Staff
This Q&A is the third in a series of profiles of Data Driven Detroit staff members.
David Mieksztyn came to work at Data Driven Detroit after working on his urban planning capstone project in 2010 at Wayne State University with Assistant Director of Projects, Erica Raleigh. He primarily focuses his attentions on spatializing data with Arc GIS programs; projects at D3 often involve a map or two or two hundred (see our Student Dispersion Tool), so David frequently provides his experience in mapping. David has intermittently volunteered with Elevate Detroit, a community barbeque held every Saturday at 2nd and Cass Avenues in Detroit’s Cass Corridor.
Where did you grow up? Clinton Township, MI
Where did you go to school? Wayne State University for undergraduate and graduate studies.
What is your degree in? Why did you choose your degree? I have a BA in history and an MA in urban planning. At the time, the urban studies major was only available as a co-major, meaning I still needed a major to successfully complete my undergraduate degree. That freed me to study something I liked but otherwise may have passed up. I studied history and got to answer others how I was not going to become a teacher/librarian/museum curator (which resulted in a lot of confusion and sympathy). Ultimately I was projecting towards a master in urban planning, which I completed in 2011.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us? I have been playing the guitar since the age of 7.
What is your history with Detroit? Growing up in the suburbs, I would come down for sporting events and the Auto Show as a child. The urban setting captivated me when I went for a visit to Wayne State University prior to selecting a school for my undergrad. I have studied, lived and/or worked continuously in Detroit for nearly a decade.
What did you do before working at D3? I worked as a code enforcement officer for the city of Roseville, just north of Detroit (sorry if I wrote you a ticket!). Just prior to joining D3, I was a full time graduate student and had finished an internship at a local architecture firm.
What do you like about working at D3? How do you think the work you are doing benefits the city/region? Putting data to use for people, be it maps or otherwise, can be a life-altering experience for those who have a plan and concept, but want to be able to target the greatest needs. Visualizing data helps remove vague concepts or assumptions that were the basis of prior decisions. It is important for our regional story to be shared and decision-makers to be better equipped, from the neighborhood group to the state government.
What is your favorite D3 map or data visualization? The student dispersion project turned out to be a very eye opening tool. We utilized specific GIS functions to make this possible, and we now have a map series that raises important questions about student commuting distances to schools in Detroit.
What is your favorite type of data? Housing data.
Who or what inspired you to take the path to Detroit, data or both? Becoming an advocate for those who are in the greatest need motivates me, and in Detroit there is no shortage of challenges to overcome. Data can help us discover underutilized assets and diamonds in the rough. To solve the big challenges in Detroit we must approach at all levels, helping in the communities, volunteering, becoming a great neighbor, and informing the public with data.
By: D3 Staff
The Hudson-Webber Foundation recently released a new report, “7.2 SQ MI”, which focuses on the data story of Greater Downtown Detroit, a 7.2 square mile collection of neighborhoods: Downtown, Midtown, New Center, Woodbridge, Eastern Market, Lafayette Park, Rivertown and Corktown. The report was prepared with the assistance of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, [Read on...]
By: D3 Staff
This year’s upcoming municipal election will be the first time in nearly 100 years that Detroiters will elect the city council from defined districts. Historically, Detroit’s nine City Council members have been elected at-large with each of them representing the city as a whole rather than a particular district. However, with the passing of Detroit’s [Read on...]
by Dana Politi, Communications
In early 2012, TechTown graciously opened their doors to Data Driven Detroit when we needed to quickly find new office space. After seven months in a temporary office space, D3 has moved to a new permanent home on the third floor of the entrepreneurial incubator. While we are getting comfortable [Read on...]
Billy Hunter, Project Manager
ArtServe Michigan, in collaboration with Data Driven Detroit, has released its latest Creative State Michigan report. For the second year running, the report reveals the economic importance of the arts and cultural institutions in Michigan’s economy. From the press release: “The report details economic and social data from 346 nonprofit [Read on...]
This Q&A is the second in a series of profiles of Data Driven Detroit staff members.
Nate Barnes was first introduced to Data Driven Detroit through Assistant Director of Projects Erica Raleigh in October 2011 at a Wayne State University event. He began interning at D3 shortly thereafter. As a data analyst, Nate primarily [Read on...]