Good piece, Kevin Reuning, but I would add another dimension to the discussion. The media bias established by polling and its impact on voters, especially on election nights, is another factor attributed to Gore’s loss in 2000, beyond Democrat defections, as well as the effect of Duverger’s Law which skews results when third-party choices are offered to voters.
The media contributes to cynicsm about democracy because, unfortunately, its horserace habit captures our attention, which sells ads.
From the currently circulating piece The Conservative Echo Chamber is Making the Right Intellectually Deaf:
The news media are even biased on the subject of public polling itself. That’s a problem because political science has long demonstrated that there is a “bandwagon effect” whereby people sometimes change their opinions and behavior to conform to what they perceive to be the majority opinion. For instance, one study found that when people knew what exit polls were on the day of an election, they were 12 percent less likely to vote. This is significant because for all the hoopla surrounding television news operations’ calling of Florida for George W. Bush in the 2000 election, it is estimated that TV’s earlier and erroneous call of the state for Al Gore actually caused somewhere between 8,000 and 28,000 voters in the state’s heavily Republican western region to stay home. It is highly probable that because of the media, Bush did not win Florida by a close but much more comfortable margin and instead became the figure of controversy from the very beginning of his presidency. The early and incorrect call of Florida almost certainly had an impact on Republican voting in other states as well given how crucial the state was to the Bush Electoral College strategy.