Serious academic research on nonvoters, however, has provided resoundingly little hard evidence in support of this outdated conventional media/pundit/hack view. When nonvoters are asked how they would have voted if they had gotten to the polls, their answers are a mixed bag. In 2000, for example, nonvoters were no more likely to approve of Democrats than voters. Analysis of the partisan effects of voter turnout after passage of the Motor Voter law showed that Democratic benefits were not statistically significant.
And now, we have Election 2004 -- which should put the high turnout-helps-Democrats myth to rest once and for all. Take Missouri, where voter registration was up 10 percent from 2000. President Bush won by a whopping 8-point margin. Take Florida, where black and Hispanic turnout was higher than expected -- and where President Bush won by a convincing 5-point margin.
Or, on a related note, consider the fizzled youth vote: Fewer than one in 10 voters were 18 to 24, roughly the same proportion of the electorate as in 2000. The MTV vote windfall for Democrats failed to materialize even after Herculean efforts by Ramen noodle-wielding Michael Moore, Bush-bashing Eminem, scare-mongering Cameron Diaz, fist-pumping P. Diddy and "Vote or Die!"-vamping Christina Aguilera. (Interestingly, exit polls showed that "morals" was one of the top issues among the youth vote. Go figure that one out, Paris and Leonardo.)
Desperately clinging to the disabused notion that those at the bottom of the electoral barrel would have broken universally for Kerry, Democrats in denial will now blame computers, the Swift Boat Veterans, the rain, the heat, surfing conditions, sinister bus schedules and conspiratorial bloggers for helping to "suppress" elusive nonvoters.
"If only more people had voted," the turnout hallucinators will moan. Be careful what you wish for.