I heard this yesterday and decided to see what it was about. I was wondering if these were the disinterested or the disenfranchised. So I did a Google search for how and what was being reported about the USA Today/Suffolk University poll. There is of course the obligatory spin from the left blaming the Koch Brothers. In an article at the HuffPo the former governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm comes down squarely in that camp. It is actually the title of the article. Not Voting? “The Koch Brothers Thank You”, her spin could not be more clear. She is blaming the right for a campaign of potential voter suppression. Here is an excerpt from her article.
The right is working very, very hard this election, spending record amounts of money, for the purpose of having you decide not to vote. They are desperate for you to stay home. They are spending money on ads. They are spending money on voter suppression. They are spending money on letting you know they are spending money so that it disgusts you; so that you’re turned off by the whole awful spectacle they’ve created. They have the champagne on ice, ready to pop the cork on election night when you opt out.
Not voting isn’t just sitting it out. Not voting is giving in.
Pretty strong indictment of the small government folks wouldn’t you say? But we need to look at the sample and the methodology of the poll to see what is going on. Commentary and articles as we have learned can be written with omissions and exclusions of fact. Thankfully the Atlantic Wire posted some interesting commentary after they said those 90 million would vote overwhelmingly for Obama (if they voted). This is what they posted on line.
Findings: Of unregistered voters, 43 percent said they would vote for Obama and 23 percent said they would vote for a third party candidate over Romney. Obama also won 43 percent of voters who are registered, but “said they are less likely to cast a ballot.” Romney got 20 percent of that category and 18 percent wanted a third party candidate.
Pollster: USA Today/Suffolk University
Methodology: Live telephone interviews with 800 U.S. adults with a margin of error of +/-3.47 percent.
Why it matters: According to USA Today, this year “perhaps 90 million Americans who could vote won’t.” Based on these results if Obama could just get them out to vote he would have a much handier win than he does right now.
Caveat: In the poll, more of the registered voters polled were Democrats: 30 percent to Republicans’ 14 percent.
Maybe it is me but the very first line here has some interesting information. “Of unregistered voters” , this oxymoron is the first flaw in the poll. Someone who is unregistered is not a voter. They quite possibly have never voted and don’t care to vote. Tat is why they are unregistered. We could debate why all day and the cause is probably a combination of bad feelings about the system, a general apathy of the people and a lack of education and civic responsibility. Is it tragic? Most definitely
This big news story is based on a poll that might be a bit skewed, the caveat says it all, 30% Democrat to 14 percent Republican. It would stand to reason that the poll would come out 2 to 1 in favor of Obama.Llet’s go back to 2008 and look at the folks who sat out that election. Care to venture a number of American reported to have sat out that election? 80 million people are estimated to not have voted that year. Incredibly in the 4 years of the Obama presidency 10 million more people feel disenfranchised? Apparently most of them are people who support Obama as the poll surmises.
Now let’s turn our attention to the root of the story USA Today and some commentary in their post about this poll. I found this very interesting comment for a group that studies the electorate.
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.”
HUH? Wait did he say “a lack of quality education for large segments of the public”. What happened to all the money the feds pumped into the public education system? And as I mentioned and he does too, the civics aspect of the whole process. Why are we not teaching about our government in schools? Many of the points Mr. Gans makes we can consider self-inflicted wounds by our politicians. Those things should inspire the electorate not suppress it. I will cite the Tea Party as a movement that wishes to hold government accountable. I have been to events where folks in the Tea party have met candidates and I can tell you that the questioning is not what you would call softballs. The folks want people who will stand up for freedom and smaller government. The support civic education and educating voters.
Maybe 90 million will sit out the election but the reasons they won’t vote are not as clear-cut as USA Today and the media makes it out to be and some of it could be Obama’s policies.
Links to the articles mentioned.