June 18, 2004

WHO ELSE CAN A PEACENIK VOTE FOR?

Nader, Although Weaker, May Reprise His Spoiler Role: In what's expected to be a close race, the slightest breeze could tip the balance. (Charles E. Cook Jr., June 18, 2004, LA Times)

As paradoxical as it seems, though Ralph Nader will probably receive significantly fewer votes in his independent candidacy for president than he received in 2000, he could again easily make the difference in this year's race.

In 2000, the consumer activist got 2,882,955 votes, 2.7% of the 105,405,100 votes cast. This time, even if he were to win just a half, a quarter, even a 10th of the vote he got last time, he could still be the deciding factor. Why will Nader lose votes this year? Although the country was as highly polarized then as it is now — both between Democrats and Republicans, and along pro-Clinton/Gore and anti-Clinton/Gore lines — the George W. Bush of 2000 was a far less polarizing figure than he is today.

And this time, voters perceive significant differences between the candidates. Traveling tens of thousands of miles across the United States, meeting thousands of people in every corner and in most of the 50 states, I have yet to find a single American who didn't believe that George W. Bush and John F. Kerry would be very different presidents, taking the country in different directions. Half believes that it is very important to reelect Bush; the other half believes it equally important to replace him. Some of the latter are enthusiastic about Kerry, but for most in this half, it is "Anybody but Bush."


This seems wrong in almost all particulars:

(1) Al Gore, who isn't one, ran as an LBJ liberal. Kerry, who is one, is instead running as a moderate.

(2) Ralph Nader is polling in about the same range as he did in 2000--between 2 & 6%. And, given that Mr. Kerry supports the war--the single most important issue to the Left--the Nader candidacy makes more sense this time around than it did in 2000. Having the peace position to himself should make him a more significant candidate this time around.

(3) With the more personally popular candidate also being the incumbent in the most of an economic boom, as opposed to the challenger last time, there's little chance of this election being close enough for Mr. Nader to decide it.

Given these factors the likely effect of the Nader candidacy is to depress Mr. Kerry's vote down closer to 40% than to 50%.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 18, 2004 5:16 PM
Comments

Charlie Cook, he of the "Democratic trending" state of New Hampshire--is it fair to say that Rush is right and the best way to be proclaimed an "expert" is to be wrong consistently about your supposed area of expertise?

Posted by: AC at June 18, 2004 7:44 PM

Al Gore may not have been an LBJ liberal in 1988 (or even 1992), but what would you call him in 2000? A Henry Wallace liberal?

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 18, 2004 9:55 PM

I may be overly optimistic but I agree with Orrin - this election won't be that close and Nader won't be a factor.

Posted by: AWW at June 18, 2004 10:21 PM
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