Nader Emerging as the Threat Democrats Feared

Nader Emerging as the Threat Democrats Feared [RSS] (NYT)

With less than three weeks before the election, Ralph Nader is emerging as just the threat that Democrats feared, with a potential to tip the balance in up to nine states where President Bush and Senator John Kerry are running neck and neck. Despite a concerted effort by Democrats to derail his independent candidacy, as well as his being struck off the Pennsylvania ballot on Wednesday, Mr. Nader will be on the ballots in more than 30 states. Polls show that he could influence the outcomes in nine by drawing support from Mr. Kerry. They are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin. Moreover, six – Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin – were among the top 20 where Mr. Nader drew his strongest support in 2000. If the vote for Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry is as evenly divided as the polls suggest, the electoral votes in any one of those states could determine who becomes president.

Mr. Nader repeated this week that he had no intention of leaving the race. He said no one from the Kerry campaign or Democratic National Committee was pressing him behind the scenes to quit, and he said he thought that Mr. Kerry would not make a good president anyway. “He’s not his own man,” Mr. Nader said on Tuesday in a telephone interview from California. “Because he takes the liberals for granted, he’s allowing Bush to pull him in his direction. It doesn’t show much for his character.” That is a change from May, when Mr. Nader met Mr. Kerry at his campaign headquarters and afterward praised him as “very presidential.” Mr. Kerry did not ask him to withdraw then, but now the party is in a full-throated plea, with its chairman, Terry McAuliffe, saying on Thursday that Mr. Nader should “end the charade” of a campaign being kept afloat by “corporate backers.”

Although Mr. Nader’s support is negligible in much of the country, and scant in some of the nine states, even a tiny Nader vote could make a difference, as it did in 2000 in Florida and New Hampshire.

Interesting. Given that Nader’s national polling hovers around 1%, one would think his impact negligible. But in a tight race, a slight difference in one or two states could change the outcome of the election. What the story ignores, along with the publically available polls I’ve seen, is that the Libertarians and plenty of minor parties out there that will siphon off votes from Bush. Given Nader’s tiny support base, I wonder if they won’t ultimately offset?

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.