Skipping the Presidential Ballot

Apr 13, 2024 | Politics

Stood up on Election Day: 15% of Americans age 18+ will not vote in November and 11% of those who do expect to vote may skip the Presidential ballot; Kennedy hurting Biden more than Trump.

As the nation’s political spotlight turns to the November general election, a critical question emerges: beyond the headlines of loyalty and opposition to President Biden and former President Trump, what about the silent choice of not choosing at all in the November general election? Who are the voters contemplating leaving the presidential ballot untouched, and what could their silence mean for the future of American democracy? Is all the disenchantment and disenfranchisement having an impact?

Challenging the common narrative that predicts a straightforward race influenced by a handful of swing states and potential Republican abstention voting on the presidential ballot, our latest national poll pierces the surface to reveal the undercurrents that could steer the election into even more uncharted, turbulent waters. Our comprehensive analysis among eligible-to-vote Americans and self-proclaimed ‘definite’ voters peels back layers of voter sentiment, uncovering that the very demographics President Biden counts on could be the architects of an unforeseen twist this election day.

Who will skip the November general election?

(Results among Americans age 18+, n=1009)

Overall, 15% of 18+ Americans said that they are not planning to vote at all in the 2024 November election cycle. Independents are the most likely to abstain, with 25% saying that they will not participate. Gen Z and Millennials are also more likely to stay away from voting, and there’s no significant difference by race.

Presidential Ballot

For the Presidential race, the pool gets smaller with 10% of 18+ Americans surveyed indicating that they intend to skip the Presidential ballot come November even if they plan to vote on other races and issues, with an additional 10% indicating that they are not sure if they would vote for a presidential candidate. Combined, this creates a 20% void for the presidential votes nationwide.

Contrary to the current media narrative, we found that Democrats (15%) and Independents (41%) are 2 to 3 times more likely to skip or are not sure they’ll be casting their vote for President than Republicans (10%) when filling out their ballots. Those not committed to vote on the Presidential ballot are especially prominent, again nearly 2 to 3 times as likely, among Gen Z (36%), Millennials (30%), and Blacks (33%) compared to their counterparts.

Who will vote on Election Day but skip the presidential ballot?

(Results among Likely Voters age 18+, n=863)

Among likely voters (those who indicated that they are extremely/very/somewhat likely to vote when asked), 7% surveyed indicated that they intend to skip the Presidential ballot come November, with an additional 4% indicating that they are not sure if they would vote for any presidential candidate.

In total, 11% of likely voters are not committed to vote on the presidential ballot even though they intend to fill out the other sections (local and state levels) of the ballot.

Again, contrary to some narratives, we found that Independents (29%) are significantly more likely to be non-committed (skip or not sure) to casting their vote for President than Republicans (6%) and Democrats (9%) when filling out their ballots.

The non-committed response (skip or not sure) is especially prominent, again 2 to 3 times as likely, among Gen Z (27%), Millennials (17%), Hispanics (13%), and Blacks (25%) compared to their counterparts. This potentially creates a significant problem for President Biden as these tend to be traditional Democratic coalitions.

What is driving voters to skip voting for President?

For those who would skip voting for a Presidential candidate, there is a general disdain towards the candidate options, apathy towards the process/politics in general, and lack of trust/faith in the process.

  • “It’s just not worth it for me to vote and my vote doesn’t matter.” – Age 23, Male, Democrat, Liberal
  • “Neither candidate is fitting.” – Age 29, Female, Democrat, Moderate
  • “Because I don’t like either of the presidents we have today because they don’t lead us in the right way…” – Age 31, Female, Republican, Moderate
  • “Colorado usually votes blue. I would rather focus in on my local area candidates.” – Age 31, Male, Republican, Conservative
  • “Because nowadays the ballots are rigged so not worth voting when my voice is not heard.” – Age 32, Female, Independent, Conservative
  • “I can’t in good conscience give Joe Biden my vote given the current genocide in Gaza and the US’s funding and support of Israel…I won’t vote for any other candidate in the presidential race, so that leaves me without casting a vote for president.” – Age 42, Independent, Liberal
  • “I do not think any of the candidates are very good. I think we are screwed with whoever gets elected.” – Age 50, Male, Independent, Moderate

RELATED: Republicans Missed an Opportunity in the 2022 Midterm Election

Who will people vote for?

As far as who Americans would vote for on the presidential ballot, the race is still very tight among those who are likely to vote. Former President Trump is at 39%, President Biden at 35%, and Kennedy at 13% among those age 18+. But among those likely to vote or extremely likely to vote, the race narrows to a statistical dead heat.

These results support that neither party can afford to have any segment of their voter coalitions to not turn out on election day in November, and especially not afford to have them skip the ballot.

Primary Questions Asked

  • “As you may or may not know, one can skip voting in some races while still voting in others. IMAGINE YOU WERE VOTING TODAY in the race for President of the United States and the following candidates were on the ballot: Joe Biden (Democrat), Donald Trump (Republican), and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Independent). Would you vote in the presidential race, or would you skip the presidential ballot and vote in other races on the ballot such as for Senate, Congress, state, and local races? [“n=Not sure” Follow up]: If you HAD to choose today, which way would you lean?”
  • “If the 2024 presidential election were held today and you were voting, for whom would you vote for president?”


This survey was conducted from April 3-5, 2024. In total, a national sample of n=1,009 interviews were conducted among U.S. adults aged 18 and older. Weighting was used to ensure a representative population with regard to age, gender, race, geographic region, and education. This was an online quantitative survey. If we were to estimate a margin of error, it would be +/-3.1% at 95% confidence. All polls have varying degrees of error that should always be considered when interpreting results.

About Heart+Mind Strategies

Heart+Mind Strategies LLC is a non-partisan insights and strategy consultancy that uncovers how people make choices through values and means-end behavioral science so that organizations can more confidently achieve their goals. Rooted in a history of political and issue campaigns beginning with President Ronald Reagan and Reagan Pollster Dick Wirthlin, we use techniques that produced 11 David Ogilvy Awards for excellence in marketing communications campaigns. To learn more, visit or follow @heartandmindstrategies on LinkedIn, Instagram or @HeartMindStrat on X.

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