Are there differences between voters and non-voters?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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It is difficult to imagine, given the intensity of the political debates that have characterized the last few years, but many Americans still stay away from the polls. In 2012, for instance, only just over 57 percent of Americans eligible to vote actually did so. Non-votes span the demographic spectrum, but it is also the case that some groups are more likely to vote than others. People who profess membership in one party or another, for example, are more likely to vote, as one might expect. Americans over the age of 65 also turn out in disproportionately high numbers, and younger voters tend not to vote in very high numbers. Income level and education are also two predictors for voting behavior, with wealthier and more educated Americans being more likely to vote. Interestingly, a recent poll found that over half of non-voters in recent elections tended to identify with Democrats, with only a quarter identifying with Republicans. (Obviously, many of these were not actually party members.) A major trend in recent elections has been for Americans in so-called "battleground states" whose electoral votes have been reported as being important to the presidential election to turn out in much higher numbers than voters where the election results are more likely. It is also the case that voters across the demographic spectrum tend to turn out in much higher percentages for presidential elections than off-year congressional elections and even state and local elections. 

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