The 2008 election saw a surge in turnout from black Americans, thanks in no small part to Barack Obama heading the Democratic ticket. For years, black turnout had consistently lagged national turnout rates.

In 2008 -- and again in 2012 -- that changed. According to the Census Bureau, blacks turned out as a percentage of the citizen voting age population at higher rates than the national average, and in 2012 black turnout even exceed the rate of white non-Hispanics. (Part of that is linked to the decline in turnout among whites.)


This was a remarkable shift. But something more remarkable happened in 2014 -- an election in which the Republicans romped at the federal level: Turnout was just as diverse as in 2008.


We explored this last July, when the Census Bureau released its new data. In 2008, the most diverse electorate to date, the percentage of the vote that was non-white was 23.7. In 2014, it was the same.

A key part of that shift is that the country itself is getting less white. Part of what happened in 2008 was Obama, yes, but part of it was that America is getting more brown and more gray, as the Hispanic population grows and the Baby Boomers age.

Last week, Pew Research released data showing that 2016's electorate would likely be more diverse still. They arrived at that conclusion thanks to some relatively simple math. Take the voting-eligible population in 2012, add the number of people turning 18 and become citizens, subtract the number of people who have died, and see the result.


Overall, the number of eligible voters will grow by about 5 percent -- but the number of eligible white voters will grow only 2 percent, compared to a 6 percent jump in the number of black eligible voters and a 17 percent jump in the number of eligible Hispanic voters.

As a raw total, the 2016 election will see more eligible Hispanic voters added than eligible white voters, 4 million to 3.2 million. That's despite whites outnumbering Hispanics by a wide margin nationally.

Of course, Hispanic voters don't turn out as much as white voters, as the first chart above demonstrates. That's the silver lining for Republicans worried about their electoral prospects. It also remains to be seen if black voter turnout will hit Obama levels the first post-Obama presidential election.

There's one other wrinkle for this year: Women have been turning out more than men for some time now, with the gap widening in presidential election years. If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, that is bad news for the Republicans.

There's one more interesting tidbit about this election. Given how demographics are shifting, this will probably also be the least diverse electorate for every presidential election here on-out. The ballyhooed 2008 election will likely, in a few decades' time, be seen as stunningly white.