The real winner of the presidential election in N.J.? Apathy.

In New Jersey, something beat both Trump and Clinton in the 2016 election: voter apathy.  Nearly 2.2 million New Jersey residents were eligible to vote but didn't turn out, edging out the 2.1 million votes for Hillary Clinton, according to data from...

The real winner of the presidential election in N.J.? Apathy.

In New Jersey, something beat both Trump and Clinton in the 2016 election: voter apathy

Nearly 2.2 million New Jersey residents were eligible to vote but didn't turn out, edging out the 2.1 million votes for Hillary Clinton, according to data from the New Jersey Division of Elections and the United States Elections Project.

(Erin Petenko | NJ.com) 

In addition, the number of registered voters who did not turn out on Election Day, 1.9 milllion, would have defeated Donald Trump, who garnered 1.6 million votes in November.

Just under two-thirds of the voting-eligible population cast a vote in the election. Of those, 123,000 -- less than 2 percent -- were cast for third-party and independent candidates. 

Out of New Jersey's voting age population, 900,000 residents were ineligible to vote because they were not citizens or were convicted felons. 

New Jersey outperformed the United States as a whole by a slim margin, as only 60 percent of eligible voters nationally cast a ballot. The state also had a better turnout than in 2012, which had 62 percent turnout, although previous elections have had better turnout rates.

 

Voter registration is not the issue, said Patrick Murray, head of the Monmouth University Polling Center. Ninety-six percent of eligible voters are registered. 

"We've been registering more eligible voters, but there's been no significant difference," he said.

The reasons residents did not vote this election are same as previous elections, he said: they feel the government is irrelevant, or that voting is pointless in a blue state.

"Voting's not going to change the electoral college," he said. "People hold protestors up to scrutiny if they're out there but didn't vote. But here, it makes sense."

The turnout forecasts for 2017 and 2018 are even worse. Murray said experts are predicting only 33 percent turnout for this year's gubernatorial race. And few Congressional seats are competitive in the next midterm. 

"The vast majority of legislative seats next year are safe," he said. "There's not a lot of incentive for people to turn out."

Erin Petenko may be reached at epetenko@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @EPetenko. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

 

 

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