The power of the nonvoter in the 2020 presidential election

A person votes in a room.
A man votes on the first day of early voting inside of the Beltrami County Community Service Center in Bemidji, Minn., on Friday.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

In 2016, at the end of a volatile campaign, almost 100 million eligible Americans did not cast a vote for president. That number represents an astounding 43 percent of the eligible voting population.

Much attention is given to the partisan voter and the voters who change their minds. But until recently, little was known about the bloc of people who opt out entirely. Earlier this year, the Knight Foundation released a study to examine why nonvoters are disengaged — and what it would take to get them to the polls.

MPR News host Kerri Miller discussed that study with two political scientists, including one of its authors. Both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger former Vice President Joe Biden hope to activate this untapped group of voters. Will they be able to do it?


  • Yanna Krupnikov, assistant professor of political science at Stony Brook University

  • Philp Chen, assistant professor of political science at Beloit College

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