Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Who Votes? Who Says They Do And Don’t? Are They Trump Voters?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The mythical Trump voter, the ones who don’t regularly show up to vote at elections, are often cited as the ones who helped put Trump over the top in the 2016 General Election.

Also sometimes also called “secret,” “hidden” or “shy” Trump voters,” they’re often identified demographically as being White, largely middle-to-lower class, with only a high school education, or less.

Before the November 2016 General Election, in March that same year, the Pew Research Center did some investigation on such a matter – the occasional voters, sometimes also known as those individuals who say they voted, but didn’t – long before it was “a thing.” Here’s what they found: “16% of those who say they “definitely voted” in the 2014 midterm election have no record of voting in commercially available national voter files.”

Their work was definitely cut out for them, because as they acknowledged, “while the presence of a record of voting almost certainly means that a person voted, the absence of a record doesn’t necessarily mean they did not.” In other words, a person could be registered to vote, but for one reason or another, they may not have exercised their right to vote, or, a record of their participation in the election is not available. In election parlance, that’s called a voting mismatch – the uncertainty of knowing whether someone registered to vote did, or did not vote.

“Respondents who say they turned out to vote in a particular election is often far greater than the proportion of the population who turned out according to official turnout tallies,” and “one-size-does-not-fit-all when it comes to the best way to validate registration and turnout across U.S. states.”

There are numerous reasons why such a mismatch occurs, and research tells us that a primary reason for it, is that the “tendency for people to over-report “good” behaviors, such as voting, giving to charities, or attending religious services, while underreporting unattractive behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse. This phenomenon is known as the social desirability bias.”

In other words, “some respondents intentionally claim to have voted when they did not, in order to portray themselves as honorable and responsible citizens,” rather than deliberate falsification of the question asked of them. Fortunately, “evidence appears to support this claim” of social desirability bias.

For example, “it is not uncommon for 70 percent of survey respondents or more to report having voted in an election, when government agencies report turnout rates of 50 percent or lower.” That could lead analysts to conclude that, “respondents lie about their electoral participation.”

However another possibility exists, which means that “it is possible that people who participate in surveys generally, or in surveys about politics in particular, are more likely to turn out than people who do not participate in such surveys.”

For whatever reason, this group of people are called voting “mismatches” by researchers, and academicians, people whose lifework is studying voting, and voters – they are experts in that field. And to be certain, it is difficult work for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with variances in the quality of data collected and maintained by states.

Among those which research has shown tend to be mismatches – those who say they definitely voted, but may not have voted – are young adults, 18-29-year-olds who said they “definitely voted” in the 2014 election, but have no record of voting. Among 30-49-year-olds, the rate drops to 17%, and among the age 65+ group, the mismatch rate is only 7%.

Hispanics are more likely than Whites or Blacks to be mismatches, with a 27% rate, while only 15% of Blacks and Whites are mismatched voters.

Income also has a role in the voter mismatch problem, which is the phenomenon of social desirability bias when reporting voting. Only 24% of those earning under $30,000 annually say they “definitely voted” but have no record on file of doing so, while only 12% of voters earning over $75,000 annually are so mismatched.

Furthermore, there are additional characteristics about mismatched voters. They’re more likely to be mobile, or to have changed residences in the past few years, which creates difficulties for Voter Registrars offices to maintain updated voting participation records. As evidence of that, at 12%, individuals who have maintained a single address for at least 5 years, are much more likely to have self-reported voting rates which match voting records, versus those who have shorter residential tenure, with 26%. And renters, at 27% are twice as likely as homeowners at 13% to say that they voted, but have no record of it – voting mismatches.

These noticeable differences hold true whether a person is married, or not, and are consistent demographically, as well, even when other variables such as mobility are considered. Researchers found that “age is the strongest individual predictor of matching, even taking into account the lifestyle characteristics that are associated with aging, such as marriage, higher income and home ownership.

But WHO did they vote for?

They voted for no one.

Recall that we’re searching for the answer to the question:
“Who said they voted, but did not?”

 

Many Americans say they voted, but did they?

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