Econintersect: Many think it will be voters who decide the outcomes in the swings states who will decide who the next president will be. A narrow margin in a couple of those states could change the outcome in the electoral college. But the few thousand voters who could decide those states are secondary the the voters who are most important in the election.
The most important voters number more than 100 million. They are the ones who will not vote in this election.
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The last year that turnout exceeded 60% was 1968 and the last year that it was greater than 65% was 104 years ago. If the turnout in 2012 were to match the high points of the 19th century (80%) there would be 195 million votes cast instead of the 137 million that are estimated if the turnout matches the average for 2004 and 2008.
The last year that accurate data is available on the number of registered voters is 2004, according to the American Presidency Project. The 2004 numbers show 46 million voting age citizens not even registered to vote and another 53 million who were registered and did not vote. Projecting those onto the 2012 voting age population* the numbers would be 48 million not registered and 55 million registered but not voting.
The estimate that 103 million voting age citizens will not be voting simply overwhelms the numbers who did vote and determined the final results in the swing states. Those numbers, be they 1,000 or 1 million, will be credited with deciding the election. In fact 103 million voters decided this election by not voting.
*Econintersect estimated the voting age population for 2012 to be approximately 240 million based on extrapolation of the U.S. Census numbers for voting age population 2004 through 2010.
- Nonvoters: Who They Are, What They Think (Pew Research, 01 November 2012)
- Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections (The American Presidency Project)
- Resident Population of Voting Age and Percent Casting Votes—States: 2000 to 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau)