Only 58% of the eligible voters actually voted in the 2012 US presidential election — a historic election, given the first black candidate was running. While regional voting rates varied dramatically, 2012 was not a impressive civic participation year.
A New York Times article showed data on the American electorate’s participation rates, which is included below.
Is not voting a sign of contentment or alientation? — the perrenial political science question.
Before we look at who (doesn’t) vote in the US elections, let’s look at how the US compares against 34 other democracies. The answer: pretty badly. Other countries with near single party control (Mexico and South Korea), something that might promote voter apathy, have higher turnout than the US. Countries with turbulent and arguably dysfunctional governments (Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy), something that might lead to voter alienation, have higher turnouts than the US.
Perhaps American voters are just happily complacent, as judged by their low participation, and contrary to media reports of the alienated electorate. The 2016 election will be a test of that theory and the contrary alientation theory, which is used to explain the Trump core voter demogrpahic.
But let’s look back at the 2012 election data as a baseline of American voter civic participation.