Barack Obama's reelection was bolstered by an increasingly diverse electorate. Whites made up only 72 percent of the electorate in the latest national exit poll data, with African-American and Latino voters comprising nearly a quarter of all voters in the presidential election. And while Romney racked up a double-digit lead among whites, Obama continues to win a huge portion of nonwhite votes.
About 71 percent of Hispanic voters cast ballots for President Obama, compared with 27 percent who voted for Romney, according to national exit polling data. That's the largest Democratic margin since 1996. Four years ago the president won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote while Republican challenger John McCain won 31 percent of the vote.
They also made up ten percent of voters, the first foray into double digits for Hispanic voters.
While Latinos join the electorate as a whole in citing the economy as the biggest issue facing the nation, immigration is also key, and many Latino voters were wary of Romney's reluctance to provide specifics on how he would approach immigration reform. While Latino voters were frustrated that Obama didn't achieve comprehensive immigration reform, they overwhelmingly supported Obama's order to grant some young undocumented immigrants deportation reprieves, and saw it as a step in the right direction. The struggling economy has hit Latinos especially hard. The foreclosure crisis disproportionately impacted Hispanics, for example. But ultimately, they felt Obama related to people like them better, and Latinos signaled that they think he deserves a second term.
Ninety three percent of African-American voters cast ballots for the president. Many credit Obama, the first black president, for jumpstarting the struggling economy and overhauling the healthcare system. And African-Americans strongly disapprove of Republican-backed voter ID laws, which disproportionately impact minorities who are less likely to have the required identification.
Women, particularly unmarried women, voted for the incumbent as well. Slightly more than two-thirds of unmarried female voters cast ballots for Obama, compared with 30 percent who voted for Romney. Obama performed well with women in general, but it was closer among married women. About 46 percent of married women backed Obama, while 53 favored Romney. Unmarried women are more likely to be lower-income and minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic.
Romney won the white vote by 58 percent, the biggest lead for a Republican candidate since 1988. But as the breakdown of votes among minorities and young voters shows, the Republican Party has struggled to gain support elsewhere. And as the country's population continues to diversify and as more minorities come of voting age, Republicans will need to reevaluate where they stand on positions such as immigration and healthcare if they hope to reel in minority voters.