Few bloggers cover electoral politics as smartly and thoroughly as Chris Bowers. So, under normal circumstances I would scoff and just keep moving to the next post over at OpenLeft upon stumbling on Bowers' speculation that the turnout rate in the upcoming 2008 presidential might drop compared to 2004--especially since the past two cycles have seen consecutive jumps in turnout while some other western democracies are experiencing declining turnouts during the past decade or so.
But Bowers, as ever, is provocative, especially in talking about the lack of enthusiasm on the center-right toward John McCain’s candidacy. And you never know: Perhaps the ongoing Clinton-Obama battle will yield very motivated supporters for the winner, but deflated enthusiasm for the core supporters of the loser. If one or both of these effects is strong enough, I suppose turnout in 2008 could be lower than 2004 and maybe even 2000.
Here’s a strange, closing thought: Could it be that one of George W Bush’s odd legacies is that he failed miserably as a “uniter, not a divider” yet will be remembered a great mobilizer, of friend and foe alike, and thus his absence from the ballot this year will deflate turnout? Speaking as a small-d democratic, I confess that I hope that’s not the case because, as polarizing as he was, I’d like to think Americans will be as motivated if not more motivated to participate in politics once this ugly, Bush-led era comes to a merciful end. My gut tells me Bowers' speculation will ultimately prove incorrect, but I'm not as confident about that today as I was yesterday.
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