Among nonvoters many suspect elections are rigged

By 2-1, non-voters say they would support Trump over Biden, an exclusive USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll finds. Their participation would change the political landscape.


Donald Trump’s argument that the 2020 election was rigged has reinforced the views of Americans who are already disenchanted about politics, one factor in their inclination not to cast a vote next year − that is, a vote they would probably cast for him.

An exclusive USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of unlikely voters − those who are eligible to vote but say they probably won’t − give Trump a lopsided edge over President Joe Biden among Americans who are deeply skeptical of politics and government.

Registered voters who say they aren’t likely to go to the polls back Trump over Biden by nearly 20 percentage points, 32%-13%, with 27% supporting a third-party or other candidate. Citizens who are eligible to vote but haven’t registered also favor Trump by close to 2-1, 28%-15%; 27% prefer another candidate.

If they participated in the election, Trump’s advantage among them is so wide that they could shift the political landscape to his advantage. His standing among unlikely voters is much stronger than in surveys of registered or likely voters, which generally show a presidential race that is effectively tied. The latest average of national polls gives Biden a 1-point edge.

“It’s just a game; it’s not even serious,” said Phillip Benjamin, 40, an engineer from Atlanta who was among those called in the poll. The last time he cast a ballot was for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, but he said that if he voted in 2024 it would be for Trump, a Republican. Benjamin, a registered voter who leans conservative, agrees with Trump’s unsubstantiated complaints that there were serious problems with the integrity of the election in 2020.

That makes him less likely to bother voting next time, he said. “If they can push an election the way they pushed that last one, they can do anything.”

The poll of 900 nonvoters, taken by landline and cellphone Aug. 19-27, has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.

“Be careful what you wish for,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “In a year of major political ironies, this is the irony of ironies with some turned-off Trump voters disgusted with voting and the election process.” 

The findings reflect a tidal change from a USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll of unlikely voters in the summer of 2012. Then, unlikely voters overwhelmingly favored the incumbent Democratic president, Barack Obama, over GOP challenger Mitt Romney, 43%-18%.

In 2020, two-thirds of eligible voters cast ballots, the highest turnout since 1900. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 40 million didn’t vote, including 12.8 million who were registered and another 25.8 million who weren’t registered.

Some analysts predict that broad dissatisfaction with the potential rematch between Biden and Trump could mean…

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