Do Non-Voters Matter?

Sean McElwee in The Atlantic: “In 2014, just 41.9 percent of the voting-age citizen population of the United States voted. But the people who voted are not only in the minority, they form an unrepresentative minority … In many salient ways, voters are not like nonvoters: voters are richer, whiter, and older than other Americans. And their votes produce a government that caters to their interests.”

“It’s not just the demographics of voters and nonvoters that differ; so do their views … Nonvoters tend to support increasing government services and spending, guaranteeing jobs, and reducing inequality—all policies that voters, on the whole, oppose. Both groups support spending on the poor, but the margin among nonvoters is far larger.”

“In every instance, net support for greater government intervention in economic affairs was higher for the non-registered populations—sometimes dramatically so.”

“Brian Newman and John Griffin, who have found that voters are ‘almost always more conservative’ than nonvoters, have argued that, ‘increases in turnout may lead to greater policy liberalism.’”

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