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Election 2000: Curtis Gans of the Cmte. for Study of American Electorate Discusses Voter TurnoutAired November 8, 2000 - 6:53 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Continuing to update the results from last night, well, the impartial results right now, if you will, you can see there, as we've been saying all along for weeks now, there were 270 electoral votes required to win the presidency. And as of last night, or as of this moment after a couple of flip-flops last night, the count stands now with Vice President Al Gore with 260 electoral votes and Gov. George W. Bush with 246. This is an estimate. And, of course, we are all waiting right now on the state of Florida. We do have now Wisconsin in the Gore Camp. We still don't know what's going to happen with the vote in Florida.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, it all gets down to Florida's 25 electoral votes.
Now taking a look at the popular vote, literally each vote counted, Gore, so far leading in the popular vote with 49 percent to George W. Bush's 48 percent. And look at that separation. I mean...
HARRIS: Still 2 percent left of the vote waiting to come in. That may still change. We'll keep our eye on that.
LIN: That's right, less than 1,000 differences in that popular vote between these two men. And, of course, it all came down to voter turnout. Voter turnout for the presidential election is estimated to have topped the 50-percent mark, a slight increase from the 1996 presidential race.
Curtis Gans with the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate joins us now from our Washington bureau to talk about the high voter turnout.
And I don't know, Curtis, "high" is relative, considering some countries have an 80 percent turnout. But in our case, usually it's, what, about 45, 46 percent in the United States?
CURTIS GANS, CMTE. STUDY OF AMER. ELECTORATE: Carol, I -- you know, I want to say something before I answer that question.
GANS: I think it is time for the broadcast networks to stop declaring winners based on exit polls and sample precinct analysis. Exit polls serve a wonderful purpose for the type of analysis that Bill Schneider does and Frank Sesno did in this hour. A sample precinct analysis makes Hal Bruno give us a good picture of our country, but declaring winners by that method does a disservice when actual results would give us actual, accurate information and provide us with the real story.
LIN: Well, Curtis, do you think that -- for example, CNN is very careful to distinguish between declaring and projecting. So we are also very careful not to make these projections until the polls close in that particular state.
GANS: I -- what you did tonight was declare Gore a winner in Florida, declare Bush a national winner, declare Cantwell a winner in Washington, and they were all wrong. And that's not good journalism, and it wouldn't be good journalism if -- you know, what would be good journalism is if we just waited for the accurate results.
LIN: And how long...
GANS: Now, let's go talk about turnouts.
GANS: Turnout, you know, is 51 percent. That, you know, that's a major -- that's a minor increase from the 49 percent in 1996. And given the closeness of this election, it essentially speaks to a continuing low turnout in the United States. We've had a 40 percent -- a 25 percent decline in voter turnout over the last 40 years. This is a slight and temporary reversal based on the closeness of the race and based basically on the mobilization efforts in the key battleground states.
I don't think turnout, per se, made a difference in the outcome of the race, and I think we are still going to be ranked 139th out of 163 democracies in the world.
LIN: Oh, too sad to say, especially in a close presidential race such as this. Thank you very much, Curtis Gans, for joining us this morning.
GANS: You're welcome.
LIN: He brings up a very interesting point, and I'm sure there's going to be much debate over the media's responsibility in declaring or even projecting races.
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