Friday, June 18, 2004

Nader as Spoiler - Again 

Charles Cook, the publisher of the Cook Political Report and widely-accepted guru on election analysis, says in today's L.A. Times that Nader won't get as many votes this year as in 2000. Why? Because a large portion of the (ahem) idealists who couldn't detect a difference between Bush and Gore have had their faces rubbed in their mistake for four years and won't be fooled again.

I'm fairly certain he's correct.

I'm also fairly certain that the other part of his analysis, where he suggests that Nader could still lose the election for Kerry even with a tiny fraction of his 2000 votes, is also correct:
[L]ook at the Florida election results from 2000. Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida; the margin between Bush and Al Gore was 537 votes. The Voter News Service national exit poll showed that had Nader not run, 47% of his voters would have cast their ballots for Gore, while only 21% said they would have voted for Bush. (Thirty percent said they would not have voted.) If Nader had received only 2% of the votes he got in Florida and we assume that the remainder of votes broke according to the VNS model, he still would have tipped the election from Gore to Bush.

Although Florida was the only state where Nader's candidacy demonstrably made the difference, his presence came reasonably close to making a difference in 10 more. In New Hampshire, for instance, Bush carried the state by 7,211 votes, and Nader received 22,198 votes. Had Nader not been in the race — and had his voters broken 47% for Gore and 21% for Bush as the Voter News Service polls suggest — Bush's margin of victory would have been only slightly more than 1,000 votes.

In six states, Nader almost cost Gore their electoral votes. Gore's narrowest numerical margin was in New Mexico, which he carried by just 366 votes. Nader got 21,251. A few more Nader voters would have spelled defeat for Gore.


In this election year, in which everything points to a close race, every little thing could be decisive, and Ralph Nader stands near the top of the list of things that may matter.
I realize that it's about as likely that Nader will look at facts militating against his arguments as it is that Dick Cheney will stop claiming that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were best friends, but I hope enough of his supporters will come to their senses to stave off another succesful spoiler run for this monomaniacal jerk.

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