This book addresses the issue of why 51.2% of the population of the USA failed to vote in the November 1996 presidential election. Through polls and studies conducted in the spring and summer of 1996, the contributors set out to answer the following questions: what were the 51.2 percent doing that day? Who are they? Why didn't they vote? The results are summarized into five types of nonvoters: doers, unplugged, irritable, don't knows and alienated.
President John Kennedy's assassination is a recurring theme among a number of the Unplugged nonvoters we interviewed, as well as among several members of other cluster groups. He's seen as a symbol: The last president who could be trusted to act like a president and care about citizens' issues. It may be simply that his death in 1963 coincided with the rise of cynicism or anger toward political institutions that was a hallmark of the 1960s. Or it may be that the end of Kennedy's tenure marked the beginning of the rise of television in political campaigns, the escalating rhetoric needed for a good sound bite, and the increasingly negative TV ads as well as the explosion of lobbyists, consultants, and other Washington insiders ...