New data provided by the Census Bureau indicate that voters' general dislike of both President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the cause of the lower voter turnout during the 2016 election. Voter antipathy toward both nominees was most present in Washington state, which also had the lowest turnout.
On May 10, the Census Bureau released its study of voter turnout for presidential election held in November 2016. The data found that only 61.4 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2016, whereas 61.8 percent had voted in 2012. Overall, the 2016 race had the lowest voter turnout since 2000, The Hill reports.
The study found that roughly 25 percent of registered voters who sat out the latest election cited their dislike of both Clinton and Trump, as well as their campaign platforms, as the reason why they chose not to cast a ballot. Antipathy toward both nominees topped the list of reasons for Americans declining to vote, the first time since 1996.
Both Clinton and Trump had historically low favorability heading into November 2016. Aggregating the last 11 national surveys released before election day, RealClearPolitics found that Clinton had an average unfavorability of 54 percent, while Trump had an average unfavorability of 58.5 percent.
Washington state had the lowest voter turnout, with 21.2 percent of registered voters not visiting the polls on election day. The Census Bureau found that 36 percent of registered voters in the Evergreen State who did not vote cited a dislike of both candidates as their reason, well above the national average, The Seattle Times reports.
Executive Director Emilio Garza of Washington Bus recalled that his nonprofit's efforts to drum up voter participation was met with many Washington residents rejecting the negative tone of the presidential race.
"It was a very negative campaign," Garza said. "It became about the candidates themselves, not the issues. What we were hearing on the ground was that folks didn't feel like they were connecting with the candidates on the issues -- not at all. They were just really fed up with the way the race was being framed."
In November 2016, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that only 44 percent of voters were satisfied by their choice of presidential candidates, while 55 percent were not at all satisfied. 92 percent of respondents said that they had witnessed more mudslinging than usual during the presidential race.