It is sometimes much easier to understand American elections if you look at it as a three party system instead of a two party system. While Republicans and Democrats tend to be the only two parties that win most elections, there is the informal “just stay home” third party which is often the top choice for many Americans and can end up tipping the balance in many elections. In many elections, easily one quarter or more of people who have voted at least once before will not go to the polls, a share of the vote that many parties in true multi-party democracies would envy. Tom Jensen at PPP found that the alternative choice of just staying home could cost Democrats control of the state legislature in North Carolina.