February 29, 2024

Voter Apathy And The 2024 Election

In the past, political scientists often used the metaphor of "The Couch" to represent voter apathy. That is, they would try to estimate how many disenchanted voters would stay home on their couches on Election Day. Of course, this was before the advent of pandemic-induced "non-traditional" voting—which allows people to (at least figuratively) vote from their couches via a range of methods (mail-in ballots; absentee ballots; legal vote-harvesting). 

Still, voter discontent is rampant this year—with upwards of seven in ten voters expressing distaste for the likely major-party choices of Joe Biden and Donald Trump. It's hard to say who will benefit from this phenomenon. On the one hand, Trump has enjoyed a boost in Republican primary turnout so far. In fact, in the recent Michigan primary, Trump votes alone eclipsed all votes in the Democratic primary. On the other hand, Democrats are much more adept at taking advantage of non-traditional voting methods—and even the new national Republican Party leadership seems clueless about how to deal with this clear Democratic edge. 

So, it's probably going come down to which group of voters hate their choice the most. Will young people and progressives abandon Biden over his handling of the Israel-Hamas War—and sit-out the election? Will disgruntled Nikki Haley voters stay home in protest of a Trump nomination? Will a third party cut into both major-party bases—and, if so, who will benefit? The truth is no one really knows what will happen at this point in the race. What we do know is that voters have a sour taste in their mouths—and thus, "The Couch" metaphor may end up determining the outcome.