Pew Poll: Non-Voters Are Lefties

Non-voters made up 42% of the voting age population in 2008, more than the percentage who voted for Obama. A new Pew Research poll looks at who those non-voters are and, unsuprisingly, they’re primarily young, poorer, anti-war, lefties who’ve decided neither of the parties making steps to the Right have anything much on offer to incite them to vote.

My post here refers, again.

If ever there were an argument for a true party of the left in the US, surely re-enfranchising the majority of that 42% by giving them a party they don’t need to hold their noses to vote for is it.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

17 CommentsLeave a comment

  • The related thing to keep in mind is that the research also shows that the folks who identify as likely voters, but then don’t actually go on to vote are biased in the same directions…

    Shy Tories and Agoraphobic Liberals – Isn’t political polling fun?

  • Now if we can only get them to break their conditioning and stop thinking of themselves as “moderates”.

    “Moderate” means nothing. It means “someone on the teevee told me what I was supposed to be, and I bought it”. When you ask people for their positions on actual issues, they mostly lean left. (Even many folks who self-identify as right.)

    We need to invent ways for people to think of themselves as reasonable, normal, wholesome folks who have a reasonable, normal, wholesome, solidly leftist political view.

    • A vote for Obama would be lost anyway in a Republican state. So you have the luxury to vote Green.

      In Canada, a divided left has kept the Conservatives in power since 2006. The Canada created by the left (Trudeau, Chretien) is no longer recognizable.

      During the last election (2011), the Canadian conservatives imported some of the dirty tactics employed by the Republicans.

      With the staggering amount of voter suppression going on in the US, it is clear that conservatives hate democracy – they CRAVE POWER and will do anything to get it.

  • Just went back and reread the older post and realized again what bothered me at the time and still haunts me.

    It would undoubtedly take decades for a 3rd party to acquire enough power to make a difference and I’m not sure we have that much time to get it done. Modern life moves faster today than it did in the late 19th century and the pace of disaster has quickened. The biggest changes in the UK between 1888 and 1924 were the result of the disastrous social/political disruptions resulting from WWI and even the biggest, stupidest mistake they could make in 1890 could not have doomed 90% of the human race and planet to extinction, but that is no longer true.

    I suppose that if we’re all ‘lost, hopelessly lost’ as my 10-year-old used to say it at least feels better to go down fighting for something worthwhile instead of clinging fearfully to the unworkable status quo. More and more, however, I am coming to feel that survival depends on extracting ourselves from the current cultural and political realm and rebuilding civilization from the bottom up; building small communities, networking them, building a community of communities. At that level, politics is less a matter of theory and agenda than it is a matter of personal relationships.

  • I intend to vote Green. The polling now for Obama is so strong that even if I lived in Ohio I would vote Green. What it would take for me to vote for Obama would be if I were in Ohio and the polling for the Green party was so strong that it appeared in the polls and it could tilt the Electoral College vote. I would feel terrible about it though because Ian Welsh would be shaming me mercilessly.

  • So the left stays home and the right shows up to vote and the parties seem to keep tacking further to the right. I wonder if that might be related somehow? Like maybe the parties are focusing on the people who actually show up at the polls and ignoring the people who stay at home or otherwise say they won’t vote for them anyway?

    • Like maybe the parties are focusing on the people who actually show up at the polls and ignoring the people who stay at home or otherwise say they won’t vote for them anyway?

      This. Why would campaigns waste precious resources trying to woo non-voters who may never peel ass from office chair no matter how much you pucker up when they can instead invest in targeting likely voters (ie, much more of a sure thing)?

      • Because the Dems are meant to be interested in representing the poor?

        Because the US has been tacking to the right for a very long time and it’s probably impossible to say whether chicken or egg came forst any more?

        Because every election cycle a few more lefties decide the right-tacking Dems aren’t worth voting for and if the Dems don’t start wooing them back then eventually they’ll run out of tacking room and base?

        there, three reasons.

        • Actually, that’s barely even one reason. The last two are just complaints. And as for Obama being interested in representing the poor, he did usher in a rather costly (for him) bill that vastly expands Medicaid and will allow expanded medical coverage for millions of the most vulnerable Americans. And how many additional votes has that legislation gotten him for the holier than thou left? Oh right. According to them, the whole thing is just a giant giveaway to the insurance companies and never mind the multitudes it helps. Someone is representing the poor there, but it isn’t the people staying at home.

          And just a hint, if you’re not voting for them, you can’t call yourself their base. The base shows up.

  • While I completely understand why you would want to vote Green (I considered it a lot before this election), I think the right answer is to get involved in the Democratic Party and push them HARD to the left! That’s what I am doing. I went to the Democratic caucuses in my area and insisted in a very loud way, that national health care be a primary goal in the party platform – and you know what? It was! (at least at my state level). Same with working toward 100% renewable energy. If you do vote Green, I hope you get out and work your ass off for the Green Party. Otherwise, you are nothing more than a poseur. Too many liberals/progressives are smug, lazy assholes who sit back and throw snark at everyone and contribute ZERO in terms of money or effort to progressive causes. If you work toward your beliefs, fine. If not, shut the fuck up.

    • Be careful not to burn-out. Remember that you are in it for the long haul and progress may appear slow or non-existent or even negative.

      The other thing to watch out for is to not get co-opted. While working at progress in one area you may be tempted by trade-offs.

      Remember too that you can have multiple opinions and do some things in a multitasked manner that may seem contradictory, like working very hard to push the Democrats left and voting Green at the same time.

      Also be careful not to alienate potential allies by suggesting that they may not be as sophisticated as they think they are.

      Good luck.

  • Something smells funny here.

    The poll says 42% of the voting age population is not voting, a large share of them likely Obama supporters, but this percentage is *down* from 2008, despite their “disenchantment” with Obama? Despite the fact that he’s come fairly strongly down on the side of progressive policies, like same-sex marriage and equal pay for all?

    It seems to me that you could throw the frikkin’ Wobblies on the ballot and these asshats would find an excuse to be lazy!

    • It’s impossible to say whether the percentage of non-voters is up or down from this survey – difference between the two estimates is well within the margin of error.

  • Oh, one more thing: if you’re proposing a third party, I might suggest you go and study “Duverger’s Law” before you start praising them.

    They simply will not work in American politics. End of discussion.

  • Not at all “end of discussion”. 1) There are plenty of counterexamples of nations with plurality rule voting but multiple strong parties – Canada, India, UK to name just three. 2) Duvergers law states that a third party can enter the arena only if it can exploit the mistakes of a pre-existing major party, and that ultimately the most similiar parties will tend to merge into one over time. In my humble opinion a true Left party would, by that rule, tend to survive while the current Dems and GOP merged.

    • India uses the Single Transferable Vote, so isn’t entirely without proportional representation like the other two, and Canada and the UK (and India) are parliamentary systems, so using them as examples of how a third party can get going in the US isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison. Also, much of the 3rd party history in Canada has been about regional parties more than truly national ones, and while we still have three major parties nationally, the provinces are mainly two-party systems, and the national scene is moving in that direction. Without some version of proportional representation, all that splitting the vote is accomplishing is making sure the Conservatives can enjoy parliamentary majorities with roughly 35% of the popular vote, hardly an ideal situation.

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