WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Much of the conversation surrounding the midterm elections focuses on the estimated 40 percent of U.S. adults who plan to vote on Nov. 4, but the much larger share of those who won’t be at the polls are younger, poorer and more racially diverse.
A new Pew Research Center poll of voting age adults who don’t plan on voting Tuesday shows a group of young Americans who have trouble with finances and weak connections to either the Republican or Democratic parties. The wide demographic divide between nonvoters and voters shows that roughly one-third (34 percent) of nonvoters are under the age of 30 and 70 percent of nonvoters are under the age of 50.
Among those likely to vote, just 10 percent are younger than 30 and only 39 percent are under 50 years of age.
Forty-three percent of nonvoters are Hispanic, African-American or other ethnic and racial minorities, which is nearly double the percentage among those (22 percent) who are likely to vote.
Nonvoters also show weak partisan affiliation, with only about half of nonvoters (47 percent) identifying with either Republicans or Democrats. Twenty-nine percent identify as Democrats and 18 percent as Republicans, while 45 percent are independents.
Among Americans likely to vote, 68 percent identify with a party – 37 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican, and just 30 percent are independents.
And although nonvoters’ views of the Democratic Party are more favorable (48 percent) than unfavorable, both parties are viewed negatively. And about as many nonvoters approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance as disapprove.
Almost half of nonvoters (46 percent) have family incomes that are below $30,000, compared to just 19 percent of likely voters. A majority of nonvoters (54 percent) have not attended college, while nearly three-quarters of likely voters have completed at least some amount of college. Forty-five percent of nonvoters say they have had trouble paying their bills in the past year.
The demographic divide between voters and nonvoter is not new to the 2014 midterm elections and this October survey by the Pew and the American Trends Panel shows that there is vast separation in financial well-being between the two groups of American adults.
The 2012 Pew survey on nonvoters found that they favored Obama over Republican candidate Mitt Romney by a wide margin, 59 to 24 percent.
More than half of nonvoters polled in 2012 identified either as Democrats or leaning Democratic, while only 27 percent tilted towards Republicans. A plurality (44 percent) of nonvoters said they identify as independents.