More Voters! Just like the old voters!

According to Pew, if I’ve done my arithmetic correctly, something like 24 million of the people who voted in 2020 could have voted in 2016 but did not. Total eligible non-voters in 2016 came to 79.5 million. That means that something very close to three out of every ten non-voters in 2016 came to the polls in 2020. That's... a lot. A huge, huge change. Isn't it?

I mean. Thirty percent of people who had made the choice to pass on the opportunity to vote for President of the United States of America in 2016 felt up to doing so in 2020. Almost a third! I think any commercial business would be thrilled to get a third of the people who haven’t bought their stuff in the past to change their minds. If a third of the people in the US who haven’t been vaccinated yet got their jabs this weekend, we’d go to 70% with their first dose by Monday.

It’s interesting (to me, anyway) that those millions of people who voted in 2020 but not in 2016 appear to have voted, in the main, the same way the people who voted in both elections did. Either each Party did an equivalently excellent job of getting disaffected partisans to the polls, or (more likely, in my opinion) the non-voting populace is really quite a bit like the voting populace and making voting easier just led to more participation. That seems to be what Pew is implying, anyway.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

4 thoughts on “More Voters! Just like the old voters!

  1. irilyth

    This is the new normal, right? Republicans openly admit that their only hope of winning is to stop people from voting; so Democrats’ only hope of winning is to throw as much money as possible in getting people to the polls, overcoming the endless obstacles that Republicans are placing, and will continue to place, in the way.

    Reply
    1. Vardibidian Post author

      I don’t think that 2020 is the new normal—I haven’t read the polisci on this (which given academic publishing probably isn’t out yet) but I suspect that most of the people who voted in 2020 who hadn’t voted in 2016 or 2018 did so because they were mailed an absentee ballot request and/or the rules for absentee voting were relaxed, and those things will not happen as much in 2022 or 2024. Not because of new Republican-pushed laws, but because of the old laws; CT (f’r’ex) explicitly allowed all that stuff only for the pandemic-hit elections.

      And, as I said, the increased voting didn’t obviously help the Rs or the Ds; the “extra” voters were split pretty much the same as the “usual” voters. And, in fact, many of the obstacles that the state Rs are putting in place are not obviously going to have the effect of suppressing D votes more than R votes. Polisci Twitter, at least, seems very much of the opinion that the new laws are clearly bad for democracy but not clearly bad for Democrats electorally, except in that electoral legitimacy is important. Also unclear is whether the R state legislators believe that obstacles to voting help them win, or if they have just taken up the principle that obstacles to voting are inherently good, and that more people voting is inherently bad, just because they hate America. Or something.

      Thanks,
      -V.

      Reply
      1. irilyth

        Fair points, which I tend to overlook.

        There’s definitely a strain of — something, maybe it’s not Conservatism, but something — that thinks democracy is overrated and more voting doesn’t lead to better outcomes in general. Probably more than one strain; I suspect the libertarians who think the power of government should be so limited that ordinary people don’t have to care about it, and the oligarchs who want to sow FUD so that the 99% don’t mess with them, are coming at it from pretty different angles.

        Reply
        1. Vardibidian Post author

          Or, indeed, those who are more worried about the ‘wrong people’ voting and who aren’t particularly worried that they are themselves the wrong people. There is some of that on the left, too! But I do think that the Conservative notion that those-in-charge should paternalistically care for those-in-need can veer dangerously into the notion that those-in-need shouldn’t be able to interfere with those-in-charge who are caring for them.

          Thanks,
          -V.

          Reply

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