WaPo finds that untapped voting group: cynics

Browse By

Philip Bump at WaPo decided to look at voters who disliked Trump and Clinton in 2016 and compared that group with those disliking Trump and Biden in 2020. 

Correlation remains not identical to causation yet again. The thing is, voters who don’t vote and those who seek other candidates is not identical at not only large scale but small scale. Even talking to the 77,000 swing-state margin population of 2016 would not yield identical numbers. But you go, Phil.

A feature of modern presidential politics is a grim one: Voters are generally asked to choose between two candidates they might not like very much.
Sure, partisans are generally enthusiastic about their party’s nominee, but in 2016, given how unpopular both candidates were, a sizable number of voters who cast ballots said they liked neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton. According to exit polling conducted that year, about 1 in 5 voters said they liked neither Trump nor Clinton, about nine times as many as said they liked both major-party candidates.
That became important, given how close the 2016 election ended up being. As it turns out, while people who liked Trump and didn’t like Clinton voted heavily for Trump (as you’d expect), the current president also had an edge among people who disliked both him and Clinton. He won those voters by 17 points nationally — and by margins in the closest states that were likely enough to hand him the electoral college victory he needed.*
(The sample size of those who liked both candidates was too small to break out, symbolic in its own right.)


We’ll add here the necessary and accurate caveat that this is general election polling well in advance of the election. But it does provide a hint at an important question for next year’s election, how those voters who dislike everyone will vote. The answer? They appear to dislike Trump more.