View Full Version : Washington Post: Fading Nader Factor

Taco John
10-22-2004, 02:53 AM
A Fading 'Nader Factor'?
Consumer Advocate Has Been Stripped of Much of His Support

By Manuel Roig-Franzia and Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 22, 2004; Page A01

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Oct. 21 -- In a state where he has been vilified by Democrats for siphoning votes from Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, Ralph Nader was typically unstinting in his criticisms of President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry on Thursday, referring to the choice facing voters as one between "heart disease and cancer."

It was the final swing through Florida before the Nov. 2 presidential election for the independent candidate, who drew several hundred people to a speech at the University of South Florida here in Pinellas County, the area where he received the most votes in 2000. But even in this bedrock of his small political following, Nader's prospects are bleak.
"This year's tough for him," said Mark Kamleiter, a St. Petersburg lawyer and longtime supporter. "They've turned on him. They're so afraid of Bush."

Nader's dwindling support is no accident. Democrats and left-leaning groups have mounted a months-long legal and public relations campaign to keep the consumer advocate off ballots and otherwise minimize his impact. While independent pollsters and some Kerry strategists say Nader could still have an impact in a number of very closely contested states, Democratic officials seem less concerned that he will influence the 2004 election as they believe he did in 2000.

A survey conducted this month for the Democratic National Committee by pollster Stanley Greenberg showed Nader averaging 1.5 percent of the vote in a dozen battleground states where his name appears on the ballot, compared with about 3 percent in the summer. It also showed that most of the support Nader lost had shifted to Kerry and indicated that his remaining backers would be as likely to vote for Bush as for the Massachusetts Democrat, if Nader were not running.

Speaking about what has become known in the news media as the "Nader factor," Leslie Dach, a senior adviser at the DNC, said: "He is less of a threat to us, clearly, than he was in 2000, less of a threat than he was last summer and less than he was even a few weeks ago."

Four years ago, Nader received about 2.8 million votes nationwide, and Democrats charged that his presence on the ballot handed Bush victories in New Hampshire and Florida. Had the Republican lost either of those states, he would not have become president.

But since that time, legions of Nader's most prominent backers, including his 2000 running mate Winona LaDuke and filmmaker Michael Moore, have urged him to abandon his campaign and asked his followers to support Kerry.

Nader did not secure the endorsement of the Green Party, which nominated him in the past two presidential elections. Democrats and affiliated groups filed a series of lawsuits to keep him off the ballot in key states and starve his campaign of resources. As a result, Nader registers at around 1 percent in most national polls. In the latest sign of his struggles, he disclosed in a Federal Election Commission filing this week that he had lent his cash-strapped campaign $100,000.

Nader has qualified for at least 33 state ballots plus the District's, 10 fewer than he appeared on four years ago. Evidence of fraud on Nader petitions has been found in several states. Judicial processes related to his ballot access in battlegrounds Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are still playing out.

On Thursday, Nader accused Democrats and Republicans of "political bigotry, dirty tricks and constitutional crimes" aimed at keeping him off presidential ballots.

Speaking to reporters before a campaign address at the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg, Nader said he will push for more information about efforts to undermine his candidacy until "the pus, the mucus and the ooze pours forth."

Some Democrats acknowledge privately that if Kerry loses to Bush it will be harder to portray Nader as a spoiler -- as they did in 2000, or as Republicans did with independent candidate H. Ross Perot in 1992. Polls show that the 2004 election could produce the smallest number of votes for third-party presidential candidates since 1988, when representatives of 17 minor parties earned fewer than 1 million votes.

Groups seeking to minimize Nader's impact are focusing on at least seven states -- Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Minnesota, Maine and New Hampshire -- where Bush and Kerry are in a virtual dead heat. In all of those but Minnesota, according to aggregates of nine recent polls compiled by the Web site RealClear Politics, Nader's share of the vote exceeds the thin margin separating Bush and Kerry.

"Yes, we've peeled a lot of votes away over time, but unfortunately we still have many states so close that even a half-percent could matter," said Robert Brandon, who worked with Nader at the activist group Public Citizen in the 1970s and coordinates former associates to oppose Nader's candidacy in battleground states.

In Florida, for example, where Nader received more than 97,000 votes (2 percent) in 2000, and Bush won by 537 votes, the state Supreme Court put Nader on the ballot last month after a lower court ruled him off. He is polling at about 1 percent and has campaigned often in the state.

Predicting the voting behavior of Nader supporters, pollsters say, is extremely difficult, because the sample size is so small. They tend to be younger and slightly less conservative than the voting population as a whole, and are more likely to oppose the Iraq war, said Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center, which has tracked 125 Nader supporters since August.

Throughout Nader's Florida swing on Thursday, including a 45-minute live interview broadcast on the al-Jazeera television network in which Nader flawlessly delivered several answers in Arabic, he referred to Bush and his brother Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, as "the Bush Boys and the Bush Gang." The brothers, he said, are responsible for turning Florida into a "political Disneyland."

"Disneyland should open up a new sector which is to show how unscrupulous corporatist politicians fool voters," Nader said at a news conference in Orlando.

Both candidates, he said, are "corporatist politicians" controlled by the large companies that Nader believes hold the true power in the United States. He described Bush as "a giant corporation in the White House disguised as a human being."

Nader will also campaign in closely contested Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Hampshire before the Nov. 2 election.

The conventional wisdom -- reinforced by GOP efforts in key states to provide signatures for Nader's ballot drives and assist with his litigation -- has long been that Nader's supporters would otherwise back Kerry. A Zogby International survey conducted between March and September showed that nearly three times as many Nader backers prefer the Democrat to the president.

But evidence suggests that anti-Nader efforts have mitigated some of the potential that his candidacy will hurt Kerry. Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll, said his research has shown for months that when Nader is removed from poll questionnaires, the margin separating the two major candidates is unaltered.

Other studies indicate that Nader supporters are unlikely to support either major-party candidate. Pew's Keeter said the majority of the Nader voters he has tracked do not identify with either major political party. Richard Bennett of the New Hampshire-based American Research Group said: "Especially since the debates, where Kerry shored up his base, it does not appear that many of the remaining Nader voters would vote for either Bush or Kerry."

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, which offers political analysis to corporate clients, said Nader's supporters are further from the mainstream of the Democratic Party than they were in 2000. "In 2000, if you lined up the characteristics of Nader's supporters and Gore's supporters, they essentially looked the same, in terms of issues and ideology, with the exception being that the Nader people did not like Al Gore."

Democrats and other groups are publicly pressing ahead with their efforts to whittle away Nader's remaining support by claiming that a vote for Nader is akin to a vote for Bush. DNC Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe this week renewed his call for Nader to withdraw from the race, "so that George Bush doesn't get another four years to lead us down the wrong path."

An anti-Nader organization called the Democratic Action Team reinforced that message by running a new television ad this week in Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico. Its message: "Ralph, don't do this to us again." A separate print ad campaign against Nader also began this week in 11 swing states, focusing on alternative newspapers.

Democratic officials said that, between now and Nov. 2, they have no plans to send surrogates, such as former Vermont governor Howard Dean, to battleground states to appeal to Nader supporters. Still, one DNC official said, "we don't want to draw too much attention to his candidacy."


Taco John
10-22-2004, 09:23 AM
That bodes bad for Bush in Florida.

Of course, he still has a brother there, so it might not mean anything...

10-22-2004, 10:28 AM
Thank you for posting this. Maybe now Kerry and his campaign will stop whining about Nader.

Taco John
10-22-2004, 10:40 AM
Why would they do that? Apparently, it's working

Michael Michigan
10-22-2004, 10:56 AM
What a difference a week makes...

October 15, 2004
Nader Emerging as the Threat Democrats Feared


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.

Democrats belittle Mr. Nader's efforts, portraying his campaign as a ragtag version of its former self, with the candidate's appearances limited to easy-to-book locations like college campuses. But they acknowledge that he could make a difference, and even Mr. Kerry has adjusted his stump speech in part to try to appeal to potential Nader voters, who tend to loathe corporate America and fiercely oppose the Iraq war.

Mr. Kerry now casts Mr. Bush as a tool of rich and powerful "special interests," and he has sharpened his critique of Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq.

Several Democratic and left-leaning groups sprung up this year to try to keep Mr. Nader off the ballot in the swing states, fearing he could siphon votes from Mr. Kerry as he did from Al Gore in 2000. In Florida that year, Mr. Nader won 1.6 percent of the vote. That accounted for 97,488 votes, and Mr. Bush beat Mr. Gore there by 537.

In 2000, Mr. Nader won 2.7 percent of the vote nationally. Pollsters say that this year, Mr. Nader's national support has dwindled, from a peak of 5 percent in May to 1.5 percent now.

In some states it is higher. This year in Iowa, the average of the latest polls shows Mr. Kerry with 47.5 percent of the vote, Mr. Bush with 46.6 percent and Mr. Nader with 4 percent.

The average of polls in Minnesota shows 45.5 percent for Mr. Kerry, 45.5 percent for Bush and 2.7 percent for Mr. Nader.

Mr. Nader is still in litigation to be on the ballot in Ohio, where Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry are in a dead heat and where Mr. Nader draws 1 percent of the vote. Mr. Nader is also appealing a court's throwing him off the Pennsylvania ballot.

Polls also show Mr. Nader drawing some support from Mr. Bush, though at a much lower level than from Mr. Kerry, which explains why Republicans have been supporting and encouraging his efforts to get on ballots while Democrats have mounted an orchestrated effort to keep him off.

"Though he hurts Kerry more than Bush, there's a potential that he hurts Bush, too," said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster who has examined Nader voters, although she said potential Nader voters were difficult to find and hard to track.

Mr. Nader maintained in the interview "there is no evidence" that he takes votes from Mr. Kerry. He said surveys by Zogby showed him pulling equally from Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry.

A spokeswoman for Zogby International, Shawnta Walcott, said that Zogby polls showed Mr. Nader drawing far more from Mr. Kerry. She said the polls, aggregated from March through last month, showed that if Mr. Nader was not an option, 41 percent of his supporters went to Mr. Kerry and 15 percent went to Mr. Bush. Thirty percent went elsewhere and 13 percent were undecided.

Ms. Greenberg said that the profile of likely Nader supporters was changing and beginning to resemble that of voters who supported H. Ross Perot, the third-party candidate, in 1996, rather than those who supported Mr. Nader in 2000. Indeed, several celebrities and liberal activists who supported Mr. Nader in 2000 have renounced him and urged other former supporters to vote for Mr. Kerry, because defeating Mr. Bush is their top priority. Mr. Nader's former running mate, Winona LaDuke, has endorsed Mr. Kerry.

Voters who supported Mr. Nader in 2000 tended to split equally between men and women and who were white, liberal and college educated. Ms. Greenberg said voters who supported him tended to be white men, blue collar, fiscally conservative, populist, against open trade, angry about the high cost of health care and prescription drugs and virulently opposed to the Iraq war.

She said Mr. Kerry had helped diminish Mr. Nader's appeal to some of those voters through his advertising and in the debates.

"Nader is taking less out of Kerry now," she said. "So the leftover Nader vote is more conservative," meaning that they were Bush supporters originally but have defected, probably because he has allowed the deficit to balloon.

Still, the Nader factor seems wildly unpredictable.

"Nader is appealing to people who think neither party represents their interests," said David Jones, who runs an anti-Nader Web site, TheNaderFactor.com. "I don't know if we're dealing with the old 2000 voter or the new 2004 voter. The real question about them is will they vote?"

In the interview, Mr. Nader rejected the idea that he was a spoiler.

"I deny the designation entirely," he said. "Everyone is trying to get votes from everyone else. So we're all spoilers or none of us are spoilers."

Mr. Nader said his campaign was at the very least producing "great data" for him to use after the election to fight what he says are restrictive and unfair ballot-access laws. He said that in the long term his current fight would help destroy the two-party dominance of American politics, which he said was his goal.

"We lose to win, eventually," he said. "That's the story of social justice. You have to be willing to lose and fight, and lose and fight, and lose and fight. Until the agenda is won."

10-22-2004, 11:27 AM
Nice, MM.

No typical "it doesn't mean anything" response from TJ?

10-22-2004, 06:22 PM
Even with articles like these the media ignores Badnarik. :shake: