For Every 10 U.S. Adults, Six Vote and Four Don’t. What Separates Them?
While young people, poor people and Hispanics are often singled out for low voting rates, there are millions of nonvoters in every demographic group. In fact, the majority of people who didn’t vote in the 2012 presidential election were white, middle-income and middle-aged.
But what distinguishes voters from nonvoters can be only partly explained by demographics. Experts say individuals tend to be motivated by a combination of their priorities, their group culture, how competitive their state is, and how easy or hard it is to vote.
At the individual level, education and income are still two of the strongest predictors of whether someone will turn out at the polls. “Most of the differences between people who vote and those who don’t vote can be accounted for by motivational reasons — levels of political interest and engagement,” said Benjamin Highton, a professor of political science at the University of California, Davis. “And levels of political interest and engagement are strongly correlated with education and income.”
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