The Sunday papers were full of drama about the "closest election in forty years"—perhaps one of the closest ever, they said. They just don't get it, political scientists, realized long ago that Gore was a shoo-in. (We're talking about _science_ here, not the foolish opinions of people like you and me.)

Much of the talk Sunday was devoted to the battle for the now legendary Undecideds. What has largely been missing, except for the occasional side story, is an account of the much larger contingent who simply won't bother to vote.

This has puzzled me. You recall the post-election analysis of Jesse Ventura's stunning victory a while back. He was elected governor of Minnesota, so we were told, in large part because his campaign had succeed in mobilizing a number of voters, especially young people, who otherwise wouldn't have voted. ("Mobilizing" was the word the news analysts favored, but it may be a bit deceptive: it means that these people were actually persuaded to register and, on election day, take 15 minutes to vote.)

In a tight presidential race, couldn't Gore or Bush have gained a decisive edge by bringing a modest chunk of those non-voters into the fold? Why didn't they seem to be doing that?

I asked an acquaintance who is more knowledgeable than I am about politics in practice. He said first that Gore and Bush want to concentrate most of their resources on people who are likely to respond to the pitch, and that it doesn't make sense to devote much time, energy, and money to people who may very well remain disaffected. And second, that they count on strongly partisan groups allied with but not funded by their campaigns to communicate a sense of urgency about the election, persuading at least some of the diffident to get ...

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