A plurality of non-voters favor President Barack Obama in the presidential race, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll released Wednesday.
Forty-three percent of registered voters who said they will not vote this election would otherwise vote for, or lean toward voting for, Obama, compared to 20 percent who favor Republican rival Mitt Romney and 18 percent who would favor an unnamed third party candidate. Among those who are not registered to vote and said they would not vote, the same proportion (43 percent) favor Obama while 23 percent would prefer a third party candidate and only 14 percent would prefer Romney. Fifteen percent of both registered and unregistered non-voters said they were undecided.
While most polls in an election year focus on likely voters, Suffolk's poll is unique in focusing on the opinions of non-voters. The July 30 to August 8 poll of 800 U.S. adults included 401 who said they will vote, 327 who said they will not vote and 56 who said they are undecided about whether they will vote or not.
The poll showed that non-voters tend to be less educated and younger than likely voters. Also, they demonstrated less political knowledge when asked to name the current U.S. vice president.
Non-voters are more likely than voters to not have a high school diploma or GED (20 to 13 percent) and to have at most a high school diploma or GED (44 to 41 percent). Voters, on the other hand, are more likely than non-voters to have an associates or bachelor's degree (33 to 27 percent).
The sample of non-voters also included a higher proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds than the sample of voters (16 to 11 percent), and a lower proportion of those over 65 years old (12 to 18 percent).
When asked to name the vice president of the United States, 34 percent of non-voters and 42 percent of voters correctly identified Joe Biden.
About half, 46 percent, of non-voters also did not vote in the 2008 election. Among those who did, most, 33 percent, voted for Obama while 17 percent voted for John McCain.
The poll's margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.47 percent.