Curtis Gans of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate reports that 105 million people voted in the 2000 election. Turn-out of eligible voters was 53 percent—a 2 percent increase over 1996.
Among registered voters, it was 86 percent, up from 82 percent who voted in 1996.
This shows that if you get people to register, they will probably show up on Election Day. Personally, I think a 100-plus vote is a powerful sample of public attitudes. That's especially the case if you note that even the largest polls rarely rise above a 1500-person sample. I say this knowing that if everybody voted, the Democrats would be the heavy favorites. (Then again, I'll bet that all those people coming late to the movies are Democrats. They just can't get their act together enough to check the movie time in the newspaper—I forgot! You have to buy one! —and to show up on time). I really do believe that Will Rogers remains the great explainer of the Republican Election Day edge: "I belong to no organized political party. I'm a Democrat."
Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's and CNBC's Hardball, is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of three books, including his Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think.