11/19/2012 10:50 am ET Updated Jan 19, 2013

Data Reveals Obama Held the White Vote

The election demonstrated to all Americans the shifting demographics of the country. However, the narrative in many homes and on television has been that President Obama won "without the white vote." CNN reported, for example, that exit polls showed 39 percent of white voters casting ballots for Obama, compared to 59 percent voting for Gov. Romney. Other outlets highlighted that 88 percent of Romney voters were white, making it seem like a landslide of that population voted for him.

Further analysis, however, reveals that Obama's showing was actually on par with his democratic predecessors. Obama's 39 percent is the same as the share Clinton won in 1992. Obama's share exceeded that earned by Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter (1980), and George McGovern.

What skewed the popular misinterpretation of the statistics is the increase in the number of voters of color. White voters make up a smaller percentage of the electorate than they once did -- 72 percent of the electorate compared to 87 percent in 1992. More American voters from different backgrounds are a benefit to the country. The United States has grown into a superpower precisely because it is built on diversity, and the innovation and progress it creates.

Listeners should not take statistics, as presented by the media or anyone else, in a vacuum. It is important to fully understand the numbers and their context. Otherwise, opinions may be based on misinformation and misunderstanding, and their decision may hinder achieving the outcomes they desire.