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Forum Post: Why 90 million Americans won't vote in November

Posted 11 years ago on Aug. 17, 2012, 12:49 a.m. EST by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR
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Why 90 million Americans won't vote in November By Susan Page, USA TODAY

They could turn a too-close-to-call race into a landslide for President Obama— but by definition they probably won't.

Annie Provencher, 60, a retired cashier from St. Pauls, N.C., didn't vote in 2008 and isn't sure she'll vote this time.

By Sara D. Davis, for USA TODAY

Call them the unlikely voters.

A nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of people who are eligible to vote but aren't likely to do so finds that these stay-at-home Americans back Obama's re-election over Republican Mitt Romney by more than 2-1. Two-thirds of them say they are registered to vote. Eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives.

Even so, they cite a range of reasons for declaring they won't vote or saying the odds are no better than 50-50 that they will: They're too busy. They aren't excited about either candidate. Their vote doesn't really matter. And nothing ever gets done, anyway.

"I don't think Obama helped us as much as he promised," says John Harrington, 52, a heavy-equipment operator from Farmington, Minn., who was among those surveyed. Since 2008, when Harrington voted for Obama, the financial downturn has forced him to sell his home in Arizona, move to Minnesota to be near a daughter and put him on the road to Nebraska, North Dakota and Iowa to find work.

His wife "loves" Obama and is sure to vote in November, but he's not certain whether he'll get there this time.

Even in 2008, when turnout was the highest in any presidential election since 1960, almost 80 million eligible citizens didn't vote. Curtis Gans, director of the non-partisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate, predicts that number will rise significantly this year. He says turnout could ebb to levels similar to 2000, when only 54.2% of those eligible to vote cast a ballot. That was up a bit from 1996, which had the lowest turnout since 1924.

This year, perhaps 90 million Americans who could vote won't. "The long-term trend tends to be awful," Gans says. "There's a lot of lack of trust in our leaders, a lack of positive feelings about political institutions, a lack of quality education for large segments of the public, a lack of civic education, the fragmenting effects of waves of communications technology, the cynicism of the coverage of politics — I could go on with a long litany."

There's also the relentlessly negative tone of this year's campaign. The majority of TV ads don't try to persuade voters to support one candidate but rather to convince them not to back the other guy. Romney ads portray Obama as a failed president and a liar. Obama ads describe Romney as a heartless corporate raider whose firm has laid off American workers while he parked some of his fortune in a Swiss bank account. (Both candidates dispute the truthfulness of the other side's commercials.)

"I really don't know much about him, but from what I hear, he's all about putting taxes on the middle-class people, and I've heard that he's put his money in overseas accounts," Jamie Palmer, 35, a mother of three from St. Joseph, Mo., says of Romney, echoing accusations made in Democratic ads. "I think that's wrong."

So will she vote? Not a chance.

Palmer has never voted. "If a candidate I liked ran for the presidency, that had the right things to say, I'd go vote," she says. "But they say the same things; they make promises; they don't keep them. It's ridiculous. If I vote, nothing is going to come of it. It's just going to be like it is right now."

Who's the vice president?

Many of these unlikely voters are suspicious of and disconnected from politics. In the survey, six in 10 say they don't pay attention to politics because "nothing ever gets done"; 54% call politics "corrupt." Only 39% could correctly name the vice president, Joe Biden. (By contrast, a Pew Research Center poll in 2010 found 59% of American adults could name the vice president.)

On the other hand, they do see a difference between the two major parties: 53% disagree with the statement that "there's not a dime's worth of difference between Democrats and Republicans." Obama scores a huge advantage among all the unlikely voters. By 43%-18%, they support the Democratic incumbent over his Republican challenger.

"There's this pool of people that Barack Obama doesn't even need to persuade," says David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, which took the survey. "All he needs to do is find them and identify them and get them to the polls. It's like a treasure chest. But the bad news is that the treasure chest is locked. …

"You've got this overriding sense of bitterness and people who have been beaten down by the economy and the negativity and the lack of trust, and that's the key that Obama can't find. And he's running out of time."

Two-thirds of the unlikely voters say they voted four years ago, backing Obama by more than 2-1 over Republican John McCain. That helps explain why Obama's campaign is spending millions of dollars on the most elaborate field operation in U.S. political history, aimed at delivering both core supporters and reluctant ones to the polls.

Romney's pick of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has opened a barrage of Democratic attacks on Ryan's proposal to move toward a voucher-like system in Medicare. Democratic strategists argue the issue could energize some of the president's discouraged backers, especially older ones.

Many of the nation's unlikely voters report hard times over the past four years. Only a third call their household finances good or excellent. Close to half say their annual household income is less than $60,000 a year. They tend to have lower levels of education than likely voters; nearly six in 10 have no more than a high school diploma.

The ranks of eligible non-voters lean toward the Democratic candidate in most though not all election years. The Democratic tilt among them is much greater in this survey than it was in 2004 or 2008 in the Gallup Poll just before Election Day. Then, Democrats had the advantage in voter enthusiasm — an asset they've lost this year.

The process of registering to vote doesn't seem to present a major obstacle. Two-thirds say registering is easy and can be done pretty quickly; 16% say it takes too much time and is too complicated. The new wave of voter ID laws, which experts predict may reduce turnout a bit, doesn't seem to be an issue: 75% support requiring citizens to show a photo ID before voting.

The top reason given by unregistered voters for not having signed up is their busy lives. Among the top reasons given by registered voters for not bothering to go to the polls: not liking either candidate and not feeling that their vote matters.

Lisa Goicochea, 19, a student at LaGuardia Community College in New York City, favors Obama. "I like that he's been trying to go through with the Obamacare, which will benefit a lot of people," she says of the health care law. But she doesn't plan to vote and isn't interested in politics.

"Sometimes people actually enjoy talking about this, and I feel left out," she says. When it comes to the government, she adds a bit ruefully, "it does matter."

Drafting Hillary Clinton

Many unlikely voters feel some regret about not going to the polls. Half agree with the statement that not voting will bother them in November "because I will be letting other people elect the president." Four in 10 say it won't bother them "because my vote doesn't make any difference anyway."

What could convince them to vote?

About one in 10 say they could be drawn by different candidates, by being convinced someone could fix the nation's problems, and by feeling better informed. Asked to name someone whose presidential bid would prompt them to vote, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was the most frequently cited, by 7%. Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who sought the GOP nomination, was next, named by 3%.

Annie Provencher, 60, a retired cashier from St. Pauls, N.C., voted for Bill Clinton and for Democrat John Kerry in 2004. She didn't vote in 2008, and she's not sure she will this time. She knows she doesn't like Obama but isn't sure about Romney. She plans to rely on the advice of her sister, who lives in Massachusetts, on how Romney did as governor.

If Hillary Clinton were running, she volunteers, "I'd be back there, the first one in line when the polls opened."

The survey identified one extremely persuasive argument. Among Obama supporters, 85% say they would go to the polls if they knew their vote would help swing a close election to the president; 70% of Romney supporters say the same for their candidate.

Given the potential closeness of this election, this might turn out to be the case.



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[-] 2 points by brightonsage (4494) 11 years ago

You should tell them that if they don't vote, the government is going to start listening to all of their phone calls, reading all of ther text messages, and all of their emails without a warrant. Oh, wait, they are doing that already.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 11 years ago


[-] 0 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

Yeah, and they landed another exportation craft on Mars!!!

Big BIZ? Big $? Anybody...........?

Get People REGISTERED and get out the VOTE!!


[-] 2 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 11 years ago

I'd rather see the 90 million votes go to a third party

90 million defeats 69 million for Obama and 59 million for McCain if they played in the 2008 election.

[-] 3 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

If only.

We should agitate for mandatory voting for all eligible citizens, open primaries, money out of politics, repeal of electoral college.

This would help 3rd party access. Instead of attacking one party or both, we should agitate for the positive change that address the party duopoly.

Peace, & Solidarity


[-] 1 points by frogmanofborneo (602) from New York, NY 11 years ago

Perhaps in four years if at that time the US is still a republic that even bothers with elections.

[-] -1 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

That will happen with Instant Runoff Elections, which Cons will never allow.

Gotta can the Cons!!

Let's get registered and let's get out the VOTE!!


[-] 1 points by jph (2652) 11 years ago

"They aren't excited about either candidate. Their vote doesn't really matter. And nothing ever gets done, anyway."

These people are right! There is little choice; the corporatist candidate Obama,. or the crazy right-wing fundies on the other ticket,. no real choice at all. Even when they promise change they deliver more corporate feudalism and police-state warmongering.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

I guess we should just give up! Nothing matters. Let's tell everyone to find a corner to crawl in. The power of the people is a fantasy.

No hope!. GIve up! We can't change anything! Submit! Resistance is futile. We will be assimilated.

That's a powerful message Jph! Not positive in the least. But powerful! You clearly do not want people to work for change.

Do you have ANY suggestion for how to achieve change? Or is your goal simply to discourage us?

[-] 2 points by jph (2652) 11 years ago

You really are a simpleton VQkag2, we have been through this a number of times now, you and I, but I guess you have the attention span of a gnat. I support a great many useful and positive things, that I actively encourage people to get INVOLVED in, that will bring about revolutionary change, submissive voting for our next corporate ruler's PR man just ain't one of them! The only choice on offer in that system is more of the same!

I support making change in your own life, and then sharing this information with others. Your constant badgering everyone to vote is base, degrading, and not at all useful. You do this in place of actually making change in your own life, I suspect.

Learn about and understand Permaculture; this is a holistic system of integrating human communities back into balance with the natural systems of the world. It works for a single person/family all the way up to a large community (eco-village), and a network of interconnected regions. This is in opposition to the corporate mono-crop, Roundup(TM) /GMO, burn-the-soil-to-death to produce large amounts of food quickly using petrol-chemical 'fertilizers' system, that is leaving dead degraded earth and corrupted natural environments. Instead we support simple organic and life affirming human powered farming in place of the corporate destruction that will fail when the oil is over. Use the investment strategies pioneered by the Slowmoney movement; get your savings out of corporate control, invest in local permaculture/organic food production, or any democratic, socially useful, positive co-op or buisness in your local community or region. This is all tied in with the Relocalize movement that is promoting making these necessary adjustments to improve life for all, getting ahead of the inevitable decline in cheap oil, and therefor the cheap energy we enjoy (destructively abuse) now. Learn and understand what the Degrowth movement is studying and strategizing around. Infinite growth on a finite planet is a dead-end, and a vast dismal failure. The very concept of capitalism is based on the wrong-minded idea of infinite wealth growth from a finite resource base, an impossibly.

Anyway, if you could use both your brain cells at once, you could possible come to realize that revolutionary change does not come from asking the owners for more gruel,. . We have to do this ourselves, some of us are already working on it. Get involved in building a future not spamming for submission to the bankers, generals, and corporate oligarchs that only have power as long as you give it to them! There is nothing revolutionary about voting. Especially in a corrupt system of human oppression, devised for wealth transfer to the 1% from the rest of us.

As you can see I have more than hope, (hope is not a plan!) I have personal involvement in several world wide movements that are currently making revolutionary change now! Not some voting in of a hypothetical "good" representative that will do the work for me.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

"simpleton"? name calling = empty arguments!

"attention span of gnat"? insulting, bullying, You can't intimidate me! You are all about anger and negativity, no positiveness at all. And all because I disagree with your effort to get people to give up their right to vote.

"submissive voting"? I don't advocate that. I'm just against telling people not to listen to anyone who tells them to give up. Which is what you are doing!

You claim you support "a great many useful and positive things" I never see you discuss it with the passion you use to discourage people to give up their right to vote. Maybe it isn't as successful or great as you claim. Or maybe your not really involved much with these "great and positive" things. Who knows? Doesn't really matter. My comments are about your constant efforts to discourage people from excercizing their right to vote!

"badgering"? "base"? "degrading"? Please that's unhinged. I have every right to disagree with the opinion that people should give up their right to vote.

You claim your "great and positive things" that you encourage people to get involved in will "bring about revolutionary change". If you really believed that you would focus all your efforts at spreading it. Instead you spend all your time attempting to get OWS supporters to give up their right to vote. Do all of your "great and positive things" only work if we don't vote? NO! It is unrelated.

"2 brain cells"? More negativity. I don't think your great and positive things are really working for you because you have much anger in you.

You have one goal here. Get people not to vote! If anyone challenges that effort you launch into a tirade of insults and bullying.

You don't scare me. You don't fool me. Voting doesn't change the "great and positive things" you claim you support and push! That doesn't really seem truthful.

Elect progressives! Vote out pro ALEC vote suppressing republicans.

DON'T GIVE UP! The people UNITED, can never be defeated.

[-] 1 points by jph (2652) 11 years ago


[-] -1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

All you have is negativity. Embrace the positive.Most of the organic farm supporters I know are peaceful people who love the earth and all people.

What strain of these cooperative organizations encourages this hatefulness? Are you sure you haven't stumbled into some hate group and haven't noticed.?

You don't know.

Jes aksin'


[-] 2 points by jph (2652) 11 years ago

Wow, you like to slander much?,. I called you a mental midget and you call me a nazi,. lol [note; VQkag2 edited out his nazi slander from the above! Revisionist history much? ]

I stand by my last post, you sir. are a dipsht!

Anyone can read my postings here, and yours! the truth, as to who is 'negative' and insulting, is quite evident! You have not once addressed the points I have made; that Obama and the Democrats have not changed the course from what the Bush's and the Clinton did. The banks are deregulated, they continue to steal and none are prosecuted,. so just who to you propose people vote for? Your hypothetical 'progressives'? They are not options, they are left out of the debates, and are not on the ballots. You push voting and can not defend why? Is it faith?

So how about instead of attacking me, and painting me with your nazi paint brush, you address the points I have made?? or is that beyond you? and more insults and lies from you to come next?

And BTW I never told anyone not to vote, I simply point out that it is of very little actual positive effect and a thoroughly disempowering exercise in submitting to corporate authority.

ADDRESS THE POINTS,. not more name calling insults please.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

I haven't called you anything, certainly not nazi. My comments were sarcasm. You comments are littered with insults. You trying to twist things so you don't look as bad as you are.

"Dipshit"? "mental midget"? Thats kinda 5th grade no?

You may not agree things have improved. I believe they have. I believe we'be gotten more done than I thought we would, especially against this most powerful, evil resistance we've ever had from the republican 1% plutocrat tools.

Elect progressives (Bernie Sanders, Letitia James) Vote out hateful republicans (Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan)

The parties are vastly different. Don't be brainwashed.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

Nothing on your great and positive orgs? Just more : "don't vote" rhetoric, and anti Obama slurs?

Voting is not useless. It is the most powerful tool we have to take power back for the people.

Govt for the people has been bought off by the corps. TAKE IT BACK.

There is nothing the people united can't do.

[-] -1 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

These are nothing more than RW talking points and they are never RIGHT!!!

But RW talking points are always wrong!

It is a maliciously false equation that Dems are anywhere near as bad as Cons. It is a cheap GOP ploy to discourage Voters, another form of Voter suppression.

Get People REGISTERED and get out the VOTE!!


[-] 1 points by jph (2652) 11 years ago

Sure the dems are marginally 'better' than the repugs, but not by much!,. and they are not going to make the changes the people want and need.

What change has come from the last 4 years? Any systemic or structural changes to the system?? Has the expansion of the military spending even slowed? The drone murders stoped or expanded ? Gitmo closed! ? No,. they are not the SAME, but they are not that far apart.

It is a sad ploy, to have one right-wing corporatist party, and the other one insanely corporate and crazy far-right,. can you not see that there is really very little choice? Where is the left-wing, or even left leaning options? ??

Don't look for change from within the system, we must make change ourselves in our daily lives and communities. Search; eco-village, permaculture, slowmoney, relocalize, degrowth, etc.

[-] -1 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

Dems and Obama will make all the changes and more that we desperately need!!! If we just Vote the Fucking Sabotaging RepubliCons out of our governments!!!! Local, Sate and Fed!!

Get People REGISTERED and get out the VOTE!!


[-] 1 points by jph (2652) 11 years ago

Where is the logic? Obama's government has had many chances to institute many useful and productive changes, and yet has failed to do so. We just get more corporate policies, spun as if they are democratic. The banking systems is just one issue to look at, and the truth is clear and astounding.

[-] -1 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

Sabotage fool!!! You Cons may pretend you're not doing it, but the People have eyes and ears, dumbshit!

Get People REGISTERED and get out the VOTE!!


[-] 1 points by funkytown (-374) 11 years ago

I think there are a number of people who recognize a deficiency in themselves that makes them less compatible; they generally abstain. I also think there are a tremendous number of people who vote economically, and in light of all the current corruption, I think they'll vote in hope of change. These, though, can be bought and I'm sure all will gladly provide their account number (as if they don't have it already) if Obama wants to stimulate their minds with a couple hundred thou, instead of tickling the nonexistent minds of these un-personed corporations.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

So you are voting?

[-] 1 points by jbgramps (159) 11 years ago

I think most people vote for their pocket book; or focus on one or two specific issues dear to them. For instance, a lot of gun owners focus on a candidates’ views on gun control. I don’t see anything wrong with people voting for things they consider in their best interest. It would be illogical to do otherwise.

In my case I’m an old guy who hasn’t missed an election, federal, State or local, in forty-five years. But I have always thought we would be better off if some people didn’t vote. Of course everyone has a different idea of who “those” people are.

But this time I may not vote, haven’t decided yet. Both candidates seem so far off the mark. I guess the good news is it probably doesn’t make a diference if I vote or not.

[-] 1 points by alterorabolish1 (569) 11 years ago


[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

"All you need is!" JL

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 11 years ago

3rd party Rocky or Jill?

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

It matters. You should vote.

And voting should be considered an obligation, a civic duty (like jury duty), a responsibility, Voting should be mandatory for all eligible citizens.

And no we wouldn't be better off if some people didn't vote. Who would decide? You wind gettin some yahoo who says no rednecks in the fly over, big empty states should vote.

Wouldn't want that now would we?

[-] 0 points by funkytown (-374) 11 years ago

Yea... and so is everyone in my family.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 11 years ago

Thats wonderful.

Good luck in all your good efforts

[-] 0 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago


There's no end to turkeys like this!!

Let's get registered and let's get out the VOTE!!


[-] 1 points by funkytown (-374) 11 years ago

You're wasting your time; the lines have been drawn and both sides are already firmly entrenched.

[-] 0 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

America and democracy are NOT a Waste of TIME. ASSHOLE!!!

Get People REGISTERED and get out the VOTE!!


[-] 1 points by factsrfun (8310) from Phoenix, AZ 11 years ago

Hey rp clean up the top it repeats, gets a good post off to bad start, peace man.

[-] 0 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

T H A N X !

Let's get registered and let's get out the VOTE!!


[-] 1 points by alterorabolish1 (569) 11 years ago


[-] 0 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago


Let's get registered and let's get out the VOTE!!


[-] 0 points by bensdad (8977) 11 years ago

Yes- the republiclans have served their masters very well-
voter suppression
convincing thinking progressives that Obama is a king
who can do whatever he wants

[-] 0 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

Which is ridiculous, because Cons have blocked, filibustered, and sabotaged everything the POTUS, who Americans overwhelmingly elected, has tried to do, to the point of treason. And because of undue influence by 1% (would-be Kings) ownership and bribery, the POTUS's and the will of the People has been subverted.

Get People REGISTERED and get out the VOTE!!


[-] 2 points by bensdad (8977) 11 years ago

If you add my post to yours, you come up with
an interesting set of simultaneous equations:

teapotty in House blocks progress = paid republiclans
Senate fillibuster blocks progress = paid republiclans
fox lies block progress = paid republiclans
voter suppression blocks progress = paid republiclans

OWS "anti-voting" trolls block progress = ¿?¿?¿?¿?¿?¿

[-] 1 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

I love our differences.

Together, we create a wider net; or deadlier kill range, either one works for me.

Meanwhile Let's:

Get People REGISTERED and get out the VOTE!!



[-] 0 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

TPMMuckraker Judge Won’t Block Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law

Ryan J. Reilly August 15, 2012, 9:10 AM 15880

A state judge on Wednesday refused to block Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s 70-page order ruled that opponents of the law failed to establish “that disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable.”

Simpson did not rule on the case’s merits, only on whether it could be enjoined. Opponents of the law are expected to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.

“We’re not done, it’s not over,” Witold J. Walczak, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who helped argue the case, told the Associated Press. “It’s why they make appeals courts.”

Simpson ruled that the law “does not expressly disenfranchise or burden any qualified elector or group of electors. The statute simply gives poll workers another tool to verify that the person voting is who they claim to be.”

He said that opponents of the law “did an excellent job of ‘putting a face’ to those burdened by the voter ID requirement.”

“At the end of the day, however, I do not have the luxury of deciding this issued based on my sympathy for the witnesses or my esteem for counsel,” Simpson ruled. “Rather, I must analyze the law, and apply it to evidence of facial unconstitutionality brought forth in the courtroom, tested by our adversarial system.”

The law is expected to have a heavier impact on elderly voters and voters in urban areas. The state has already given a contract to a Republican lobbying company to educate voters about the law. One top Republican in Pennsylvania said the voter ID law would help Mitt Romney win the state.

Opponents of the law were confident it would be overturned when the trial wrapped up in early August. The state had admitted it had no evidence of in-person voter fraud taking place in the state and did not expect in-person fraud to take place if the law wasn’t enacted.

The Justice Department launched a separate investigation into Pennsylvania’s voter ID law under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting practices. Pennsylvania, Voter ID, Voter Identification, voter fraud Ryan J. Reilly

Ryan J. Reilly is a D.C.-based reporter for TPM. Prior to joining TPM, he worked for a news website covering the Justice Department and was a researcher for Bloomberg News. His email address is ryan(at)talkingpointsmemo.com.


[-] 0 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

Get People REGISTERED and get out the VOTE!!


[-] 1 points by factsrfun (8310) from Phoenix, AZ 11 years ago

that's the way uh huh..

[-] 0 points by rpc972 (628) from Portland, OR 11 years ago