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The Trump-Biden rematch has incredibly high stakes. Here's why some Americans might not vote anyway.

Bryan Metzger   

The Trump-Biden rematch has incredibly high stakes. Here's why some Americans might not vote anyway.
  • Trump and Biden are set for a rematch this fall, and the stakes couldn't be higher.
  • Yet some voters are likely to sit out the election for a variety of reasons.

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are set for a rematch this November — and most Americans aren't happy about it.

An April survey from the Pew Research Center found that 49% of voters would replace both candidates if they could. Poll after poll has shown that the race is essentially tied at the national level.

The stakes of the election couldn't be higher. Voters face a choice between a continuation of the status quo — and perhaps a more aggressive slate of progressive reforms, if Democrats regain control of both chambers of Congress — and a radically different vision for America that could bring mass deportations and fewer restraints on executive power. Some believe that American democracy itself is at stake.

Yet plenty of voters are likely to choose neither candidate in November, either casting protest votes for third-party candidates or staying out home altogether.

Voter apathy and non-voting are very common

We've never had an election where voter turnout is 100%.

In the last six elections since 2000, between one-third to one-half of eligible voters have failed to cast ballots, either because they chose not to do so, forgot to do so, or were prevented from doing so for some other reason.

It's difficult to make generalizations around why some Americans don't vote, but there are some broad theories that could apply. One theory posited by the 2017 book "The American Nonvoter" is that a sense of uncertainty, especially driven by a national crisis such as a pandemic, plays a key role in motivating less engaged people to vote.

This year's election presents a scenario that's relatively rare: Both Biden and Trump have been president, they have both been fairly unpopular, and everyone knows who they are.

More importantly, almost every voter — aside from the most recent immigrants — has a sense of what life in America is like when one or the other is in office.

While a Trump versus Biden presidency has massive implications writ large, some Americans may not feel especially impacted in their day-to-day lives by who sits in the Oval Office.

Some are intentionally sitting out over the war in Gaza

Aside from pre-existing reasons of voter apathy, some voters are intentionally planning to stay home out of protest.

The single biggest driver of such protests this year are left-wing voters who would otherwise support President Joe Biden but wish to protest his support for Israel's war in Gaza, which has killed over 35,0000 people and led to dire humanitarian conditions.

In the Democratic presidential primaries this year, hundreds of thousands of voters have cast "uncommitted" ballots to signal their displeasure.

Depending on whether a cease-fire agreement is reached before the election, those voters could sit out November, at least at the presidential level. And more radical groups like "Abandon Biden" are already pushing for voters to do that, regardless of what happens between now and then.

These voters, many of whom are Arab or Muslim Americans, say that they know what a Trump victory would mean for them. The former president has long made Muslims a scapegoat for his brand of politics, and he has vaguely pledged to expand upon the so-called "Muslim ban" that he enacted when he was president.

Yet they're preparing to stay home anyway, arguing — in the words of Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud — that "a genocide outweighs all of this."

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