Our analysis shows that while 9 percent of Obama 2012 voters went for Mr. Trump in 2016, 7 percent — that’s more than four million missing voters — stayed home. Three percent voted for a third-party candidate.
To explore the characteristics and attitudes of these voters, we used data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a large survey with a sample of more than 64,000 adults. We grouped all 2012 voters into one of five categories, three of which we focus on in this essay: Obama-to-Trump, Obama-to-nonvoter and Obama-to-Clinton. (We used validated voter turnout data rather than self-reported turnout, which tends to overstate actual voter participation and which one of us used in a preliminary analysis.)
So who were the Obama-to-nonvoters? Fifty-one percent were people of color, compared with 16 percent of Obama-to-Trump voters and 34 percent of Obama-to-Clinton voters. Twenty-three percent of Obama-to-nonvoters were under 30, compared with 11 percent of Obama-to-Trump voters and 10 percent of Obama-to-Clinton voters. More than 60 percent of Obama-to-nonvoters make less than $50,000 a year, compared with 45 percent of Obama-to-Clinton voters and 52 percent of Obama-to-Trump voters.