A new poll indicates the largest percentage of a vast contingent of Americans – some 80 million strong – like Barack Obama, think he’s doing OK and fully expect him to be re-elected.
Except they won’t vote for him.
“This is a poll of the ‘other America,'” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “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.”
Paleologos said it’s the first poll this year that exclusively looks at unregistered voters.
Among Americans who are not registered to vote, 43 percent said they would choose Obama, 23 percent said they would pick a third-party candidate, and 14 percent said they liked presumptive GOP candidate Mitt Romney.
Among those who are registered, but unlikely to vote, 43 percent preferred Obama, 20 percent picked Romney and 18 percent preferred a third-party candidate, according to the new poll.
The researchers working on the Suffolk University-USA TODAY project explained that while Obama and Joe Biden gathered some 70 million votes in 2008, and Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin got about 60 million, a full 80 million – 38 percent of eligible adults – did not vote.
They either were unregistered or were registered and chose not to go to the polls.
According to the university report, 58 percent said politics does make a difference in their lives, and 64 percent said they keep in touch with what’s going on in government. Additionally, nearly 80 percent said the federal government plays an important role in their lives.
However, the poll authors noted that 61 percent could not correctly name the current vice president, and 59 percent said the reason they don’t pay attention is that the campaigns are just a bunch of empty promises.
But those people probably won’t be voting. Of those who are not registered, 26 percent said they have no time or are too busy, and 12 percent said their vote doesn’t count or matter. For those who are registered, 14 percent said they were thinking about it, and 13 percent cited their right “to vote or not to vote.”
Paleologos said the results would be good news for Obama – if the president could figure a way to get them registered and to the polls.
“There is a treasure chest of voters he doesn’t even have to persuade – they already like him and dislike Mitt Romney,” he said.
The problem, however, “is that these people won’t vote because they feel beaten down by empty promises, a bad economy and the negativity of both parties.”
He said Obama has lost time – “and the key” – to reach these voters.
Among this segment of Americans, 52 percent see the country as being on the wrong track, but still 55 percent viewed Obama favorably and 25 percent viewed Romney favorably.
“Ironically, both the Obama and Romney campaigns want to tout likely voter polls showing their respective candidates leading by wide margins,” said Paleologos. “But for these non-voters, this assertion has the opposite effect from what the campaigns want. If these people think you’re going to win anyway, that’s one more reason in a long list of reasons why they’ll stay home in November.”
For the survey, live telephone calls were made to 800 U.S. adults during the first week of August.
Among other tidbits from the poll:
- Among the respondents, nearly 20 percent are unemployed
- Only 34 percent believe the country is moving in the right direction
- Forty-seven percent say the economy or unemployment is the biggest hurdle now
- Fifty-seven percent could not name the vice president, and 1 percent thought Dick Cheney still held the office
- Nineteen percent said there was “nothing” that could happen to make them vote in November. Twenty-two percent said they don’t know what could make that happen
- More than 3 in 4 said the U.S. is not yet through the recession
- Three percent mostly trust Comedy Central for their news, while 23 percent named CNN and 19 percent Fox News.