The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A lot of nonvoters are mad at the election results. If only there were something they could have done!

The Fix: Where did Trump's wave of surprise voters come from? (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

Of America’s 320 million-odd residents, only about three-quarters are eligible to vote (mostly because they’re over the age of 18). Of the group that could vote in the presidential election, the U.S. Election Project’s Michael McDonald estimates that about 58.1 percent did — meaning that 41.9 percent of eligible Americans didn’t vote last week.

Using the most recent national splits from the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman, that means that Donald Trump was elected president with the support of fewer than 1 in 5 Americans.

So be it. That’s the system. You vote; you shape the government. You stay home, you don’t.

The Post partnered with the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University to survey Americans in the wake of last week’s voting. Among the questions we asked was a simple one: How do you feel about the election of Donald Trump as president? It was an open-ended question, and we noted what people said in response.

The most common sentiment was happiness and excitement, followed by those who indicated that they were upset. Many said they were hopeful (in one way or another); many expressed that they thought the results were terrible or that they were scared or worried about the result. The graph above groups responses by type, but the overall most common reply we heard was “disappointed” (which fits into that “upset” category).

Of course, the responses varied depending on who we were asking.

Trump voters were much more likely to be happy and hopeful; Clinton backers more likely to be upset, scared and shocked. Not hugely surprising.

But then we also broke out responses from those who didn’t even bother voting.

It’s a small sample size, but the responses were more evenly distributed. More nonvoters said they thought the results were terrible than expressed happiness about them, for example.

To which I say: Are you kidding me?

Some people aren’t able to vote on Election Day because they’re working or have some sort of emergency that prevents their doing so. Those people are excused from the following critique. For those who were eligible to vote but chose not to: Your opinion is bad. Voting is the price of admission for complaining about the results. Nothing’s stopping you from complaining, of course; the First Amendment protects complaints more than anything else, really. But don’t roll up to America and say “you made a bad choice” after not weighing in on that choice. It’s like showing up to dinner with a group of friends an hour in and complaining about what they ordered. Tough luck, man; eat your liver.

Let's revise that first graph, re-categorizing it slightly.