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Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Nader Factor in 2004

Posted by DavidNYC

For a while, I believed/hoped that Nader would not be a factor in this election. Sadly, I think he might be once again. Here's another map of the U.S. (courtesy of the NYT), this time showing where Nader has and has not qualified for the ballot. With the last Supreme Court appeal rejected on Tuesday, things seem to be finalized.

Nader Ballot Qualifications

There were two states in 2000 where Gore + Nader exceeded Bush + Buchanan, but Bush alone exceeded Gore alone: Florida, of course, and New Hampshire. Ralph is on the ballot in both of those places. However, FL is the only one of the "big three" where Nader appears - he didn't make it on in either PA or OH. So the overall picture:

Off: AZ, MO, NC, OH, OR, PA, VA

On: AR, CO, IA, FL, LA, ME, MI, MN, NH, NM, NV, TN, WA, WI, WV

Nader's best swing states in 2000 were ME, CO, MN and OR - he captured over 5% of the vote in each of those. What matters, of course, is not how well Nader does, but whether it's enough to affect the outcome. In fact, Nader's best state in 2000 was deep red Alaska, where he polled 10%. Florida was one of Nader's crappier states in 2000 - he pulled just 1.63%, well under his national margin of 2.73% - but of course we all know how that turned out.

So what do you think? Will Nader affect the outcome this year? As I argued in a post below, I think the odds are against the electoral college coming into play, which essentially means that Nader's votes wouldn't matter either. Please note: We've debated the merits of open ballot access laws vs. restrictive ballot access laws almost to death here. At this point, the question simply is, will Nader matter this year?

Posted at 02:00 AM in General | Technorati


I really don't think Nader will matter this much. I honestly believe the margin is going to be wide enough that he won't be a spoiler in any state. Furthermore, I can't imagine he will get much of the vote. He is nowhere. No one is talking to him. No one is going to see him. Young voters aren't supporting him. No one cares about Nader this year. The differences between the two candidates are clear and stark, no matter how much Nader bitches about how evil the Democrats are. Simply put, he means nothing this year and I think we'll see that reflected in the final outcome. I predict he'll get 1% or less of the vote in most states he's on the ballot.

Nader simply doesn't matter in 2004.

Posted by: Joel Caris at October 28, 2004 03:09 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I can't think of any situation where Nader will affect the outcome greatly. I mean, unless John Kerry does something really stupid, and half his voters flock to Nader, Ralph will be a minimal factor. His support is much lower than last time; most of his former Naderites have vowed to vote for Kerry. I haven't seen a poll which has him above 1% in at least a month, and Kerry has the momentum going in Florida, America's favorite state. So Ralph will be a negligent factor this election.

Posted by: Dale at October 28, 2004 07:23 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I certainly hope you're right about Nader. However, I want to remind you that Gore won my state of WI by only 0.2 percent of the vote.

Posted by: WisVoter at October 28, 2004 07:41 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

My guess is about half the people who poll Nader will vote Kerry. The Nader effect could be felt in MN if the race is close there. He should get about 2% in MN.

Speaking of MN. I do think of the Humphrey poll in MN as bull. They sampled 44% Republican, 14% Independent, and 42% Democrat. That is way off the 2000 election. In 2000 the mix was 36% Democrat, 31% Republican, and 33% Independent. Kerry should pull out MN by at least 2%.

Posted by: DFuller at October 28, 2004 09:40 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Guys I constantly see the internals of many of these polls showing that about half of Kerry's supporters are voting against Bush more than voting for Kerry. I think that is a good thing because that means our side will be more motivated to turn out on Tuesday. One more thing according to Quinnipiacs new releas Kerry is ahead 57-36% among voters who have already voted in Florida! That Is HuGe guys!!! It's all about intensity.

Posted by: godfrey at October 28, 2004 11:33 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Let it go.

I voted for Nader in 2000. Nader didn't take my vote from Gore. Gore did. If Nader wasn't on the ballot I would have stayed home.

Did Nader's votes outnumber bush's ill-gained margin of victory in Florida? Yes. But so did Gloria LaRiva's. Who, you may ask? Which is exactly my point.

Like every single other person I know who voted for Nader in 2000, I am voting for Kerry this

You can fret about it all you want, but Nader is well within his rights to run (and his exclusion in many states is in my eyes a scandal). If the Dems have failed to make the case for their candidate against the current occupant of the White House they really only have themselves to blame. In any event I expect an (electoral) landslide for Kerry.

Posted by: Christopher Day at October 28, 2004 11:39 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I would like to suggest you visit votepair.org to check out an option for strategically voting this year. A vote for Nader can have no impact on the electoral college. See how.

Posted by: carnet at October 28, 2004 12:44 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I voted for Nader in 2000. Nader didn't take my vote from Gore. Gore did. If Nader wasn't on the ballot I would have stayed home.

I understand that was your feeling in 2000. However, exit polls showed that, had there been a two-way race in 2000, 46% of Nader voters would have instead voted for Gore, 23% would have voted for Bush, and 31% would have stayed home. So you fall in that third category, but almost half of Nader voters would have gone ahead and pulled the lever for Gore.

Anyhow, I do agree that Nader's ballot access efforts have been a scandal.

Posted by: DavidNYC at October 28, 2004 01:40 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Just voted absentee in PA so that I can do GOTV on election day. I strongly have argued all along that Nader will be a non-factor for a variety of reasons. But I did find my ballot interesting. It had already been printed with Nader's name on it so they had to marker it off. But you can still see it so they included a note about how you can't vote for Nader. But it is also kind of like a little unintentional reminder that you can run for Nader and you can still see Nader's name. So I would think that anyone bent on voting for Nader will simply write him in.

Posted by: seamus at October 28, 2004 02:29 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

That's pretty interesting, Seamus. Have you already sent your ballot in, or is there any chance you could scan it so that we could see?

Posted by: DavidNYC at October 28, 2004 02:40 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I don't think Nader alone will be a factor in Colorado this year. But Nader, Badnarik and Cobb collectively might. I disagree with the assumption that Badnarik is to Bush what Nader is to Kerry -- I think in Colorado there are a lot of people for whom the choice is between Badnarik and Kerry. (You might call it the Stoner Vote.)

Posted by: Colorado Luis at October 28, 2004 03:19 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Down here in Durango some of the most vocal and hard-working supporters of Kerry are 2000 Nader voters who have been kicking themselves for the last 4 years. So I don't think Nader will be a factor.

But I agree with Colorado Luis. Badnarik will probably take a lot of votes from both Bush and Kerry - I wouldn't call it the Stoner Vote, I'd call it the Loner Vote - those who want as little government as possible.

Posted by: Ilana at October 28, 2004 05:00 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I think Christopher Day is right on the money. Nader 2000 was about breaking down the two-party system and sending a message to the DLC-ruled Democratic Party that they can't ignore progressives forever (a lesson they still need to learn). In 2000, people voted for Nader because he was (a) the candidate of the largest and most attractive third-party, and we wanted to see more parties on the national scene, and (b) because he was a well-respected famous guy.

Neither of those reasons apply in 2004. You can bank on this: anybody who votes for Nader this time would NEVER have voted for Kerry no matter what. Those exit polls DavidNYC mentioned are faulty because there ARE no two-way races. Yes, 46% said they would have gone to Gore if they had absolutely no other choice, because progressives want to be responsible citizens, and that means voting. But there WERE other choices: the Socialsts, the Socialist Workers, etc. I beileve most of that 46% would have voted for another third-party candidate if the Greens hadn't run anybody. In the impossibly hypothetical situation posed by the pollsters, Gore was the only person they could vote for and still be responsible citizens. It's the same today with Kerry.

Most of Nader's 2000 votes will go to Kerry and Cobb. Some will go to other third parties, and a tiny number of hardcore Naderphiles will go to Nader again. If you can't bring yourself to vote for the Democrat in this election, you will NEVER vote for the Democrat, and you most certainly can not be counted among those whose votes to which the Democratic Party believes it is entitled.

This hand-wringing over Nader began as a ploy of the Democratic Party to scare people away from voting for third-party candidates because ultimately, they don't want their power challenged. It's not democratic in the least. Don't get suckered into their self-serving alarmism. Vote for Kerry, but be ready to make some noise when he tries to ignore us once he's in the White House.

Posted by: H. Partch at October 28, 2004 05:05 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Sigh. Why is it always impossible to debate whether Nader will have an effect without debating whether he's good, whether the Dems were wrong, whether Al Gore sucked, etc. etc.?

In any case, I disagree that "most" of the 46% who said they would support Gore would have voted for other tiny third parties had Nader been on the ballot. In 2000, the small parties (outside the top five, which include the Green, Reform and Libertarian parties) got .22%. In 1996, they got .44%. In 1992, they got .36%.

Forty-six percent of Nader's national total of 2.73% would be 1.26%. If "most" means, say, 75%, then that means .94% of the national vote would have instead gone to the tiny parties. Combined with the .22% that the tiny parties actually did get in 2000, this would have given these small parties 1.16% of the national vote.

But the smallest parties have never, ever done that well - at least, not in the last forty years. (And note that many of these small parties are not left-wing.) Is it possible that a lot of nominally pro-Gore Nader voters would have chosen another third party in 2000 had Nader been on the ballot? Perhaps. But historically, that seems unlikely to me.

Posted by: DavidNYC at October 28, 2004 05:33 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

David, unfortunately I voted and didn't scan in. I didn't think to do it until I'd already sealed it. stupid me. I can check around if anyone else has one but the deadline for turning in absentee is tomorrow so I doubt it.

Posted by: seamus at October 28, 2004 07:29 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

i doubt nader will get more than .8 % of the vote.the outcome of this election will depend on what the republicans try to pull this weekend.i just don`t see how bush can poll any better than he did in 2000.
a lot of naders voters will be going to kerry, bush lost the arab vote, is losing hispanics,blacks, jews.unless he can get a massive amount of new voters i can`t see him winning. anyway watch out for sundays redskins game, if they win bush wins, if green bay wins kerry wins.this has worked every election since 1936. when the skins win the party in power wins and vice versa. just a weird fact but it has always worked and the redskins stink!

Posted by: JOEL at October 28, 2004 07:33 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Joel, check out this old story from ESPN.com by Steve Hirdt. Hirdt predicted, based on past evidence, that there would be NO winner of Super Bowl 37. I call this Hirdt's Law: Because something has never happened, it cannot happen.

Of course, Hirdt obviously wrote in jest, and I only call it a "law" to point out this logical fallacy. (For the record, the Tampa Bay Bucs won the Super Bowl that year, thus breaking Rule 7.

Posted by: DavidNYC at October 28, 2004 08:41 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

According to your map, Nader isn't on the ballot in Texas. However, when I went by early voting yesterday, the machine on which I voted quite clearly included nader as an option.

Posted by: bdgee at October 28, 2004 08:53 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Joel, the Redskins don't stink. That's an insult to stink. The Skins are just plain awful. Where I live, in the D.C. suburbs, there are huge numbers of Cowboy fans because so many people have given up on those losers. I declared my neutrality when that moron Norv Turner made them near dead last. Joe Gibbs has to pick up the shattered pieces of the once great team that we neither love nor adore, and won't be able to do it before Sunday, so I say may the Redskins lose badly as they usually do.

Posted by: Dale at October 28, 2004 09:07 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Interesting, bdgee. It's not my map, though - it's from the NYTimes. And this site confirms the information as well.

Depending upon your inclination, you might want to call 866-OUR-VOTE to let them know that there may be an irregularity on the ballot you saw. I think we can all agree that no one should be fooled into thinking they can cast a valid vote for Nader if that vote in fact will not be valid.

Posted by: DavidNYC at October 28, 2004 09:36 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Democrats should know this and be pushing the media to cover Michael Badnarik. Read now on Electoral-Vote: ���A Rasmussen poll taken Oct. 26 in Arizona puts Libertarian party candidate Michael Badnarik at 3%. When the pollsters actually ask about him, he does surprisingly well. He might end up canceling out the Nader factor by appealing to disgruntled Republicans who support a balanced budget and small government and are appalled by the current deficit and power the Patriot Act gives the government to snoop on people's lives.���

Posted by: VoteBadnarik at October 28, 2004 10:01 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Regarding Nader in 2000:

If we're dealing with impossible hypotheticals (as we are, re: the exit poll you cite), historical precedent of actual results just doesn't apply. I'm willing to concede that a portion of Nader's voters in 2000 might have voted for Gore if Nader hadn't been on the ballot, but the poll in question gives very misleading results. The choices it gives respondents are Gore, Bush, and abstention. Leaving aside for the moment your historical data about "tiny parties", what about the Green party? Had Nader not run, certainly they would have run somebody else, and certainly a significant portion of the "would have picked Gore" people would actually have pulled the lever for the Greens. The question isn't purely whether, as you say, "a lot of nominally pro-Gore Nader voters would have chosen another third party in 2000 had Nader [not] been on the ballot," but how many would have gone Green AND how many would have gone to one of the "tiny parties".

Hypotheticals aside, the situation in 2000 was unique: presented with two seemingly ultra-similar and unsatisfactory candidates, the time was riper for third parties than it had been for decades. As the most viable third party, the Greens in 2000 sapped roughly half of the votes cast in 1996 to "tiny parties", motivated lots of disgruntled progressives to turn out, and gave some fed-up Democrats a much-needed forum for their politics. 2000 was unique, and therefore it defies precedent. Also unique, 2004 is much, much different, and this time around, Nader is deader than a doornail.

To answer your question, it's impossible to debate whether or not Nader will have an effect without also debating his quality or that of the Democratic candidate because, very simply, that's how people decide whether or not it's worth voting for a third-party candidate. In 2000, if Gore had been great and Nader lousy, hardly anyone would have voted for Nader (progressives like to win too, so they often go for promising Dems who are politically sound). Similarly, if Bush had campaigned the way he governs, most progressives would have (again) swallowed their gorges and voted for Gore. This time, Nader really is lousy, and Kerry is marginally good. This time, no amount of moderate posturing can cover up Bush's record. This time, there will be no so-called Nader effect.

Only the most cynical partisan picks a candidate solely on merit of their party identification. For everybody else, quality and circumstance matter, and that's why Nader won't get any votes. Nader 2000 represented the rise of the multiparty system. Nader 2004 represents...Nader.

As I said previously, the moderates in control of the DNC want us all to quake in our boots about Nader so that we won't ever again get uppity enough to dare challenge their hegemony. Don't let them get away with it!

Posted by: H. Partch at October 29, 2004 12:56 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I would like to suggest you visit votepair.org to check out an option for strategically voting this year. A vote for Nader can have no impact on the electoral college. See how.

I read on some blog a couple of weeks ago that a bunch of Bush voters were signing up at votepair claiming they were in a swing state and wanted to vote for Nader. Apparently they would get paired up with someone who was voting for Kerry in a non-swing state. And even though that person would stategically vote for Nader, the Bush voter would still vote for Bush.

They'll stop at nothing to steal another election.

Posted by: deltanine at October 29, 2004 12:59 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

To respond (belatedly), in 1992, only 6% of Perot voters said they would have voted for another third-party candidate had he not been on the ballot. (38% said Clinton, 37% said Bush and 14% said they'd stay at home.)

This suggests to me that people often tend to vote for the person, rather than the party. So I think that had the Greens run someone with a much lower national profile (as they are this year) in 2000, they would have had a lot fewer voters.

And finally, there are two separate kinds of debates. The first is something along the (highly simplified) lines of, "Is Nader doing the right thing, and the Democrats bad for trying to keep him off the ballot?" The other debate - the kind that I think is more fruitful - is, "Will Nader's qualities - or those of the Democrats - sway people?"

The first is a normative debate, the second a positive one. A normative debate will have us all arguing in circles. (And I say this from experience.) A positive debate will hopefully point us in the right direction in terms of what we need to do.

Posted by: DavidNYC at October 30, 2004 06:30 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment