Poll: Likely non-voters more likely to not vote for...
August 15th, 2012
02:19 PM ET
6 years ago

Poll: Likely non-voters more likely to not vote for...

(CNN) – Polls assessing the state of the presidential race typically survey people likely to vote in November's general election. But what about the millions of Americans who could cast ballots, but won't?

A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday found that of the roughly 40% of eligible Americans who aren't likely to vote in November, 2-in-1 would support President Barack Obama. Voters who are registered, but not likely to vote, back Obama over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, 43%-20%. Another 18% said they'd support a third party candidate, and 15% weren't sure who they would vote for.

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Among eligible voters who weren't registered, the numbers were similar. Forty-three percent backed Obama, while 14% supported Romney and 23% said they'd go for a third party.

In 2008, 64% of voting-age citizens – 131 million in total – cast ballots in the presidential election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That was not statistically different than the number who voted in 2004, though it was higher than the number who voted in presidential elections in 2000 and 1996.

The USA Today/Suffolk poll of unlikely 2012 voters indicated that only 32% did not vote in 2008. Forty-four percent cast ballots for Obama, and 20% said they voted for McCain.

Why aren't people voting? Fifty-nine percent find that 'nothing ever gets done; it's a bunch of empty promises.' Fifty-four percent find politics corrupt, and 42% do not know the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Thirty-seven percent believe that politics do not make a difference in their lives.

In Wednesday's poll, 55% of the non-likely voters said they had a favorable opinion of Obama, compared to 25% who had a favorable opinion of Romney. Many more, however, remained undecided on Romney. Twenty-two percent were undecided on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, compared to only 7% who were undecided on Obama.

Of the Americans polled who were eligible to vote but were not registered, 26% said they were too busy to get themselves on the voter rolls. Twelve percent said their vote wouldn't count anyway, and 10% said they just didn't want to get registered.

Americans registered to vote but unlikely to actually cast ballots had similar rationale for not participating in this year's election. Twelve percent said their vote wouldn't count, and 13% said it was their right to choose not to vote. Fourteen percent, however, said they may wind up voting, or that they were thinking about voting, in November.

However, just because eligible voters are choosing not to cast a ballot does not mean that they do not second guess their decision. Fifty percent of the unlikely voters believe it will bother them that they are allowing others to elect their president. Forty-one percent said it wouldn't bother them, since they felt their vote doesn't make a difference.

The USA Today/Suffolk University poll surveyed 800 adults by telephone between July 30-August 8. The sampling error was plus or minus 3.47 percentage points.

CNN's Kevin Liptak and Dashia Starr contributed to this report.

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

Filed under: 2012 • Polls
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Bob

    "2-in-1 would support President Barack Obama". Huh?
    Does anyone proof this stuff?

    August 15, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    People not voting is all the GOP/Teatrolls have left, which is why they're trying desperately to prevent as many people from doing so as they possibly can.

    August 15, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. Reggiedw

    CNN i would like to know how and where do you do your polling. Everybody you poll always seems to be in Obama's favor but when I see other polls it is always the opposite. Stop being so bias because it is no going to work.

    August 15, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |

    I just hope non-voters who are voting this cycle aren't voting against their own interest.

    August 15, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. Laverne

    Reggiew darling, I know it is hard to accept that no one wants the republicans candidates 4 years ago or now! If they were so incompetent and hateful then maybe it would be different, but so much for that cause that is all they know!

    August 15, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. Howard

    Obama plays dirty and always needs an unfair advantage ... like when he demands that we allow illegals the right to vote ... or, when he tries to eliminate the need for an I.D. to vote ... or, when he tries to suppress the military vote. Obama is a BULLY and a COWARD. Inviting the supreme court to the State Of The Union speech, only to publicly insult them on national television ... when they couldn't talk back ... is only one of many examples of this. Also, whenever Obama has the upper hand ... like when he bragged and boasted about how he would have a BILLION dollar war chest ... only to cry like a baby when his opponent raised more money. Or, when instead of taking responsibility for his failures, he always resorts to blaming others ... This is the sign of a small man, with no character or integrity.

    August 15, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. John,PA

    Now I'm really laughing with this pool, you mean like the polls in Wisconsin that were all are wrong?

    August 15, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. Waitaminute

    Just more proof on why the Republicans are trying to make it difficult for these folks to register and vote.....Hope that their attempts to rig the election fails and democracy wins where we do not deny its citizens the right to cast the ballot. I think we live in the USA lst I checked...

    August 15, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. Fair is Fair

    "Why aren't people voting? Fifty-nine percent find that 'nothing ever gets done; it's a bunch of empty promises.' Fifty-four percent find politics corrupt, and 42% do not know the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Thirty-seven percent believe that politics do not make a difference in their lives."
    Further proof that the dumbing down of America continues, unabated.

    August 15, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. CanadaONE

    Canadians cannot vote but a Canadian poll says 78% of Canadian would vote for Obama – 22 would not vote at all and 2% would vote for Palin – NO ONE would vote for Romney

    August 15, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. The REAL TRUTH...

    @Howard – give it up howie! The whining and parroted Faux Nosie propaganda is really getting old. How do you people come up with this piffle??

    Perhaps the right wing and it's lemming nuts could focus on constructive discourse instead of the usual hating and spoutrage that is all too common with the brainwashed. Please do some FACT checking, so you won't be quite such an embarrasment to the conservative movement. After all, thay are going to need all the help they can get in Nov.

    August 15, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. Mike

    Why some people don't vote is astounding to me. It counts! You have a role! It's your freaking future! VOTE!!!!

    August 15, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. TheVoice2

    Voter supression is all the GOPT has left! Even with that Mitt Phony will not be President. Mr "vote me President now and give details later" NOT gonna happen.

    August 15, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. JW

    Yeah keep those americans working till they are 70. constuction workers, coal miners, drillers, labors, trashmen, truck drivers, ect. and other people whn do the work of running the USA. maybe we'll get lucky and they will die on the job before 70. that means no need to pay them Soc. Sec. or medicare. Huh talk about chains and form of slavery for some Americans.

    August 15, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. myviewis

    But at the end of the day it is the Electral College that elect the President and Vice President. I saw an interview a few weeks ago of a lady who is an Elector and the way she spoke she showed favoritism with President Obama so I don't know that this process is fair, what if they are promised favors, cash?????

    August 15, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is a sad statement. We need everyone voting. It doesn't have to be for the Democrats or Republicans, but it should be done. It is their civic responsibility. I don't know how they call themselves Americans and good citizens if they don't go out and vote. There are other parties out there to look into. I wonder how easy it would be to get a tax deduction or some other reward for voting. The reverse, a penalty for not voting, might be easier to do.

    August 15, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. Lionel

    It is time to get out the non-voters. I hope that volunteers read this. We will beat the Repubs in 2012.

    August 15, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. TheIndependent

    I did not vote in 2008 but I am going to vote this time because my livelihood depends on the outcome!!! If Romney wins, my future will be pretty dark – unemployment due to outsourcing of my job to other countries, certain cut back in unemployment benefits, need to call my kids from college due to less or no longer available financial assistance for poor/middle class students, need to care for my parents and my wife's parents due to elimination of medicare and medicaid that support them today, potential foreclosure of my home and personal bankrupcy, etc., etc. If, however, President Obama remains in the office, there is hope and there is light at the end of this dark tunnel which has been the legacy of everything the Republican White House had left behind for us to clean up and fix!!!

    August 15, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. California

    Obama is obviously running a hate campaign.

    August 15, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  20. Griff.

    "So lets hope they do/don't. Obama promised so much of do/don'ts for his election, so he needs this kind of dithering on the flight-pad. What they really mean, is they're too bloody lazy to get off their backsides. "

    August 15, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Ann

    The GOP is not only trying to supress the vote but also trying to lower the President's likeability with the stupid fake outrage that they have been sprouting over the last 5 days. That is their pathetic elecition strategy? Mitt the Twitt is a spoiled, rich empty suit. who things that he should get whatever he wants even when he has not earned it.

    August 15, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "like when he demands that we allow illegals the right to vote"

    Not a single from either party has said this. You are HALLUCINATING.

    "or, when he tries to eliminate the need for an I.D. to vote"

    We never needed IDs to vote until the GOP/Teatrolls started demagoguing non-existant voter fraud in order to enact legislation designed to fix said non-existant problem. The only problem the GOP/Teatrolls were really trying to fix was too many minorities voting as far as they were concerned.

    "or, when he tries to suppress the military vote"

    Ohio's laws allowed all people to vote early if eligible. When the GOP/Teatrolls took over they took that right away from EVERYBODY. Then, they gave it back only to military servicemembers becaus they thought it would give them an advantage by allowing only a group theiy believe votes mostly for GOP to have that right. Obama's suit specificallyk and explicitly states that it was appropriate to give that right to the military members and is simply seeking to expand that right to other people who need, including the sick, diabled, elderly, etc. Military groups are on Obama's side on this one and at least one has tried to join the suit as a third party arguing that it should be expanded as long as the military is included. Mittens is LYING about the Ohio suit...just like he is about Medicare and welfare.

    August 15, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. truth hurts

    >Polls assessing the state of the presidential race typically survey people likely to vote in November's general election.

    hey sniffy.... did you read this? do you admit you're full of it now?

    August 15, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. once upon a horse

    @ Howard....
    when did President Obama DEMAND that illegals have the right to vote? That must have happened in your right wing fantasy world. Besides if he demanded they have a right to vote why has he deported so many of them..more than Bush has done in eight years so far......Sorry sir but your FoxNews creds are showing.

    August 15, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    Action was taken in Libya. What is the geopolitical difference between this and Libya? Oil?
    Because the Russian Navy is on friendly terms with Syria?
    The former Soviets now have that long sought after naval port, {well, a port or sorts], in the Mediterranean.

    August 15, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
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