As tens of millions of Americans go to the polls to select our new political leadership, it’s worth taking a moment to consider who won’t be voting. In most midterm elections, more of us tend to sit out than cast a ballot. In 2010, for example, 42 percent voted.
Now that the ground game is over, with Democrats (who love separation of church and state except when uniting the two benefits them) having turned to churches in a final bid to boost turnout, who’s going to be left on the sidelines?
An early episode of The Simpsons describes them thusly: “My back is spineless. My belly is yellow. I am the American non-voter.” But that seems unfair. According to the Pew Research Center, the reality is that American non-voters are: “very different demographically from likely voters.” They’re young, diverse (which we’re supposed to be celebrating), and less wealthy and educated.
Digging into the numbers: “Roughly a third (34%) of nonvoters are younger than 30 and most (70%) are under 50,” Pew explains. “Fully 43% of those who are not likely to cast ballots Tuesday are Hispanic, African American or other racial and ethnic minorities.” And: “Nearly half of nonvoters (46%) have family incomes less than $30,000” while “most nonvoters (54%) have not attended college.”
Election returns are like a massive, nationwide opinion poll. They’re a snapshot of public opinion, but a crucial one, as elections put our political leadership into place. Whatever the turnout, the new Congress will have a mandate, from those of us who do vote, and on behalf of those who don’t.