Most Nonvoters Still Aren’t Sorry They Didn’t Vote

One quarter of them didn't think their vote would matter.
Hillary Clinton may think otherwise.
Hillary Clinton may think otherwise.

Over half of Americans who didn’t vote in the presidential election ― 55 percent ― don’t regret that decision, according to a new Pew Research report. Just 44 percent now wish they had voted.

The report, released Tuesday, found the most common reason for nonvoting was a general dislike for their options. Twenty-six percent of nonvoters said they “didn’t like any of the candidates.” Almost as many, 25 percent, said they “didn’t think my vote would matter.”

Among other reasons for not voting, 22 percent said they weren’t registered, 17 percent didn’t have enough time, 15 percent already knew who would win, and 10 percent were unable to make it to the polls. (Respondents were able to select more than one reason, so the numbers don’t add up to 100 percent.)

The nonvoter group was disproportionately young. While those under 30 constituted 16 percent of registered voters, they made up 41 percent of nonvoters. These young nonvoters were especially skeptical that their vote could have made any difference. Thirty-three percent of nonvoters under the age of 30 said their vote wouldn’t matter, while only 13 percent of nonvoters over 50 thought the same.

Nonvoters also tended to be less educated. Fifty-three percent of those who didn’t vote held a high school degree or less, compared to 32 percent of registered voters.

Those who didn’t cast a ballot were less likely to be white and more likely to be Hispanic than the electorate at large. White voters made up 70 percent of the electorate but only 52 percent of nonvoters. In contrast, Hispanics constituted 11 percent of registered voters but a full 20 percent of nonvoters.

As for those who did vote, Pew asked if they would still choose the same candidate. Ninety-seven percent said they would vote for the same person again. Only 1 percent of Donald Trump voters and 4 percent of Hillary Clinton voters would change their minds. However, 8 percent of Gary Johnson voters said they’d pick a different candidate now.

An estimated 58 percent of eligible voters came out to vote in 2016, almost the same as in 2012. But turnout in swing states tended to be lower than in past elections.

According to the national exit poll, younger and Latino voters who turned out went strongly for Clinton ― 55 percent and 66 percent, respectively. 

Pew didn’t ask nonvoters who they would have voted for. But given that exit poll data, the lower turnout among young and Latino voters could help explain why Clinton did better in polls than she did on Election Day.

Pew Research surveyed 4,183 American adults, including 471 nonvoters, through live interviews conducted over landlines and cell phones between Nov. 29 and Dec. 12.