Inside our poll: The unlikely voters of 2024 want a 3rd party, or maybe 4 or 5

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They overwhelmingly support Donald Trump and blast Joe Biden.

But they don't plan to vote.

A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll takes a rare look at the views of unlikely voters, some of them registered and others not but all of them planning to stay home on Election Day. Almost all of them are disenchanted about politics and politicians, and by more than 2-1 they say they would vote for Trump over Biden.

Strategists, pollsters and academics understandably put their efforts into identifying which voters will turn out in an election. Likely voters, as they're called, are the ones who decide winners and losers.

Yet even though the 2024 is poised to be the most expensive in U.S. history − and the most polarized − election analysts predict turnout may well drop below the record-setting levels of 2020 and 2016. That could be the result of unhappiness with their choices and uncertainty about the government's ability to address their problems.

President Joe Biden answers questions on the U.S. debt limits on May 20, 2023.
President Joe Biden answers questions on the U.S. debt limits on May 20, 2023.

Could they change their minds? Here are some things we learned in our survey.

Third party? How about four or five?

No surprise that these Americans want to have more choices. Only about 1 in 6, 17%, say the Democratic and Republican parties do a good job of representing the nation's political views. Twenty percent say a third party is necessary; even more, 44%, endorse the idea of multiple parties.

In a rematch between President Biden and former president Trump, 18% of the registered voters in the survey and 14% of the unregistered ones support an unnamed third-party candidate. Green Party candidate Cornel West is backed by 8% of unregistered voters and 2% of those who are registered.

Those who plan to vote are interested in additional options, too. In a recent USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll, 1 in 4 registered voters said they would support a third-party candidate.

Brutal views of Biden

Only 18% of those surveyed report voting for Biden in 2020; even fewer say they would support him if they did vote in 2024 − 13% of those who are registered and 15% of those who are not. His overall job approval rating is a dismal 23%, well below the 40-something approval he gets in polls of all registered voters.

Asked in an open-ended question to say the first word or phrase came to mind when they hear Biden's name, the most frequent response was "incompetent" and second was "old." Others centered on his mental acuity. Just 23% of those surveyed have a favorable impression of him, 52% an unfavorable one.

Trump's ratings are only slightly better: 28% favorable, 49% unfavorable.

Worse than politicians? Try Congress, and the press

Still, both Biden and Trump have better ratings than Congress, at 17% favorable, 46% unfavorable.

Faring even worse are the news media. Just 13% have a favorable view of the press, while 62% have an unfavorable one.

For political news, a third rely on social media sites, equal to the number who depend on TV and cable news networks, at 34% each. One in 10 say newspapers and magazines, either online or in print, are their primary source of information. Six percent cite friends and family.

The process isn't the problem

Don't blame the voting process itself. Two-thirds of unlikely voters say registering is easy to complete and can be done fairly quickly. Just over 1 in 10, 11%, say it takes too much time or is too complicated.

What's more, nearly 8 in 10, 79%, say citizens should be required to show a photo ID before voting, an issue that has divided Republicans and Democrats in some states. Support is high even though 57% say voter ID and other laws have discouraged some people from voting.

The challenges of the voting process itself was named as their reason for staying home by just 4% of those who are registered to vote.

They have other reasons.

(can we say what some of these other reasons? cb)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Inside our poll: Unlikely voters want a 3rd party, or maybe 4 or 5