Uncertainty and Apathy in the 2024 Election

The Survey Center on American Life at the American Enterprise Institute recently surveyed 6,500 American adults to understand the factors influencing voter behavior in the upcoming 2024 presidential election. In the report, An Unsettled Electorate: How Uncertainty and Apathy are Shaping the 2024 Election, results show that Americans are evenly divided between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, with neither candidate being particularly well-liked. For many Americans, educational, racial, gendered, and ideological issues have influenced their life trajectory, creating deep divides within the electorate.

The report briefly evaluates voter engagement on topics such as the 2024 election, abortion laws and restrictions, the Israel-Hamas conflict, the southern border, and the youth vote gender gap. Among these major issues, the most pressing concern for voters is the national economy. The survey reports that more than 61% Americans say the economy is worsening, while 21% say it’s staying the same, and 16% say it’s improving. The report notes sharp partisan differences in economic outlook. More than 82% of Republicans say the economy is getting worse, while only 36% of Democrats share the same view. Younger voters overall have a more pessimistic view of the economy and believe the American Dream is difficult for people like them to achieve.

Despite many voter’s apathy and general pessimism, 72% of registered voters say their decision in the 2024 presidential election will be an easy one. The report states that “Roughly equal numbers of Americans have negative perceptions of Trump and Biden, and the race will likely come down to which candidate voters dislike least.” In the end, Americans will vote for the candidate and party they believe best represents their economic interests and addresses their concerns, reflecting significant differences in ideology, race, gender, and education.

For more information, check out resources in the HSDL related to political polarization, and HSDL’s In Focus topic on Election Security.

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