Black voters turned out at the polls at a higher rate than white voters for the first time ever in the 2012 election, according to an analysis conducted by The Associated Press.

According to the report, released on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would have narrowly defeated President Obama if turnout had more closely resembled the demographic breakdown of the 2004 election.

The Associated Press called the analysis, conducted by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a “tipping point” for black voters.

President Obama won 93 percent of the black vote, 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and 73 percent of the Asian vote in the 2012 election. However, it was the rate of turnout, not the high margins of separation with those groups, that won the election for Obama.

According to the analysis, if white voters and black voters had shown up at the rate they did in 2004, then Romney would have erased the nearly 5 million-vote deficit that ended up separating the two. He also would have won the key battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia and Colorado, giving him an Electoral College victory.

One of the primary criticisms of Romney was that he wasn’t a committed conservative, and was thus incapable of turning out those Republicans who remained on the fence. Overall in 2012, voter turnout was 58 percent. That’s down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.

How the demographics of the election would shake out was a hotly contested issue during the 2012 campaign. Many conservatives argued that the polls skewed in Obama’s favor because sample sizes were based on 2008, when Democrats — and Hispanics, blacks and young voters in particular — turned out in record numbers.

Those projections turned out to be correct, provoking many Republicans to re-examine their message and policies as they relate to minorities.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has been travelling around the country meeting with minority leaders in 2013 and has pledged to engage minority voters year-round going forward.