If unregistered and unlikely voters were to go to the polls this year, President Obama would win the election with ease, according to a new Suffolk University/USA Today poll released on Wednesday.
Nearly 40 percent of American adults won’t vote in the upcoming election. But of unregistered and unlikely voters, the poll found that 43 percent of both blocks favored the president. Among unregistered Americans, only 14 percent chose Mitt Romney, a number that increases to 20 percent among unlikely voters.
In fact, 23 percent of unregistered voters favored third-party candidates over Romney.
The block of unlikely and unregistered voters accounts for a large percentage of Americans. Almost 80 million, or 38 percent of eligible voters, chose not to vote in 2008. That same year, about 70 million people voted for the Democratic presidential ticket, while about 60 million voted for the Republican ticket.
“This is a poll of the ‘Other America,’” David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston, said in a release. “There is a huge block of Americans who are never asked their opinions because they are immediately screened out once they've indicated that they are not registered or unlikely to vote. It is the first poll taken this year that exclusively looks at this segment of the population.”
A majority of those polled seemed disheartened by the current political system, with 59 percent saying the reason they don’t pay attention is because nothing gets done in Washington. However, 58 percent did say that politics in some way makes a difference in their lives.
Obama is seen favorably by 55 percent while only 25 percent viewed Romney favorably (51 percent viewed him unfavorably). If their vote would affect the election substantially, 85 percent of those who support Obama said they would register and/or vote in November. For Romney, 70 percent would do the same.
“This poll is a good-news bad news story for Barack Obama,” Paleologos said. “The good news is that there is a treasure chest of voters he doesn’t even have to persuade – they already like him and dislike Mitt Romney. He just needs to unlock the chest and get them out to vote. The bad news is that these people won’t vote because they feel beaten down by empty promises, a bad economy and the negativity of both parties."
Both campaigns have made significant efforts to drive up voter registration in several swing states. In several states that now have stricter voting laws, Democrats have taken legal action, which they say was done to prevent voter suppression.
The poll was conducted between July 30 and Aug. 8 among 800 adults. The margin of error was 3.47 percentage points.
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