Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
One thing I've been wondering about regarding this election is how much Republican turnout goes down. If the polls hold steady as they've been in the last couple of weeks, Republicans will have a sense that their man is going to lose. And many of them were never hot on John McCain to start with.
My sense is that when Republicans have bad years, it's generally because of just this effect -- their people don't show up. But I've been challenged on this by knowledgeable friends in recent days who wonder where my data are to back up such an assertion.
It's not much, but Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com has a post noting that turnout thus far is down in Oregon, an exclusively vote-by-mail state, compared with the same period in 2004. But it's down by larger numbers in counties that President Bush carried that year. After putting forward some provisos, Silver concludes:
One underdiscussed scenario in this election is the one wherein Republican base turnout is relatively low. Although this has generally been an engaging election with engaging candidates, the base remains considerably less enthusiastic about John McCain than it was about George W. Bush, and McCain is also lacking Bush's ground game. While the natural assumption is that Democrats would prefer a large turnout, what they are really aiming for is something in the medium-to-high range: one where their base turns out but the Republican one doesn't.
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