While we greatly value comments from readers, please don't send us mail telling us about the typo in the headline above. We know and it's not. It is well known that in a good year, election turnout might hit 65% of eligible voters. That means that 35% of potential voters didn't bother to vote. In 2020, the presidential election had the highest voter turnout of the 21st century, with 66.8% of citizens 18 and older voting. A total of 158 million people voted. That also means that about 78 million people who were eligible to vote decided not to. That's a lot of nonvoters. Why don't they vote and who do they like?
A Suffolk University/USA Today poll of unlikely voters shows that many of them are double haters who are deeply skeptical of government. Some say they don't like any of the candidates. Others say their vote doesn't matter. Still others say the system is corrupt and elections are rigged. Three quarters of nonvoters say that politicians are full of empty promises. Many say: "Nothing ever gets done in Washington." The economy is a big issue with many of them. One man said: "Which poison do you like better?"
In a sense, blame the founding parents. They created this great system of checks and balances so that each branch of government could prevent the others from doing anything. It has advantages if you are worried about a tyrannical king running roughshod over the population, but clearly also has downsides compared to a parliamentary system in which a party that has a 1-seat majority in the parliament can often get much of its program enacted—and then get feedback at the next election.
Registered voters who don't plan on voting support Donald Trump over Joe Biden 32% to 13%, with 27% preferring a third party or other candidate. Among citizens who aren't even registered but could register if they want to, Trump's lead over Biden is 28% to 13%, also with 27% preferring someone else. This poll represents a tidal change from a similar poll the same pollster did in 2012. Then nonvoters preferred Barack Obama over Mitt Romney 42% to 18%.
If even a modest percentage of these nonvoters would register and vote, Trump would win easily. Getting nonvoters to vote is clearly something Republicans ought to be working on. What would it take to get them to vote? Many said "a miracle" or "nothing." (V)