Voting in the USA: An illustrated breakdown of the electorate

Did you know that it takes less than 1/4 of the US population to win the presidency?

That’s not typically how we think about it. You often hear pundits and fanatics claim “Half the country voted for…” But that’s not true at all. When you count up all the people in our country — 331 million of them — the winner of the US Presidential Election typically only receives a vote from less than 25 percent of the population.

Let’s break it down:
(Numbers from 11/9/2020 are 5 days updated since the illustration above):

In 2020, there were about 331,000,000 Americans in the US.

Roughly 233,900,000 of those Americans are eligible to vote, according to Pew Research.

The remaining 97,100,000 Americans can’t vote because they are under the age of 18, incarcerated, or ineligible for some other reason. (You could argue the kids of voters have some sway in the election.)

Based on the latest AP election results: 76,346,061 Americans voted for Joe Biden, and 71,447,246 Americans voted for Donald Trump. About 2,346,500 Americans voted for a third-party candidate or write-in (can you believe more than 65,000 votes went for Kanye?)

That leaves about 83,700,000 Americans who could have voted but DID NOT CAST A BALLOT.

Apathetic and disenfranchised

Perhaps those non-voters broke a leg or foot and couldn’t make it to the polls? Maybe they took a sailboat trip around the globe and didn’t make it home in time? Maybe they lost their mail-in vote envelope in the couch cushions while zoning out to Fox TV?

More likely they were apathetic, or they were suppressed.

What does history show?

Comparing 2020 to 2016, vote turnout was way up for both parties, though the Democrats saw a larger increase in votes. Still, the majority of eligible voters did not cast a ballot.

Go back 4 years and turnout is even worse. It took less than 1/3 of eligible voters to elect the winner.

So what should we do?

Start by voting.

Then move on to convincing your friends, families, neighbors, and strangers to vote. Seriously, it doesn’t matter what side you’re on or if you like a third-party candidate. Just cast a ballot and let your vote get tallied.

Illustrations and opinions by Matt Berger

2 thoughts on “Voting in the USA: An illustrated breakdown of the electorate

  1. Hello!
    I found your blog as I was searching for anyone else that has made a single-use podcast player and your sweet Kumiko podbox is basically exactly what I’m trying to do. I’ve got a Raspberry Pi and just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Any chance you (and your buddy) would share the code for the player? I’m trying to make a box for my daughter to play a morning and night toothbrushing podcast so she doesn’t have to use my phone. I’ve found some other scripts that I can modify, so no worries if not.
    Also, related, I’m definitely going to make a skateboard with my daughter! Your book looks rad and we always need projects to work on.
    Rock on,

    • Hi Jeff! Just now seeing your comment. Unfortunately, I have lost the code but I still want to come back to this project someday so I’ll keep you posted here. Hopefully, you’re able to make it work.

      And thanks for supporting my skateboard book! It’s the perfect family project. Your daughter will have a lot of fun building a board with you.

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