Anti-Nader Site Ironically Proves Nader On Ballot HELPS Kerry in OR!
A nifty new interactive map put up by anti-Nader activists to "prove" that Nader is drawing more votes from Kerry than Bush actually "proves" just the opposite is true in Oregon. Nader has said all along this would probably start happening as election day draws near. But the real lesson is that dumbly comparing two-way-race and three-way-race poll data is no way to predict election outcomes, or to guide electoral strategy.
After all, what if the polls did three two-way races (Bush-Nader, Nader-Kerry, Bush-Kerry). What if they added the clause, "Pretend you have no way of knowing or predicting how others might vote." What if they listed ten main issue positions for each candidate -- or better yet, without identifying the candidates?
Click on the "Without Nader" button at the top right. Look at Oregon on the map. It's light blue, meaning slightly-Kerry-leaning. Move your mouse over OR on the map to see the stats:
Now click the "With Nader" button at the top right. Oregon goes Dark Blue, meaning strongly Kerry-leaning. Roll over and see the result:
If you are genuinely devoted to the ABB line as a matter of pragmatic principle, and not just an anti-Nader bigot, you should charge out this minute and start gathering signatures to put Nader/Camejo on the ballot in Oregon!
To see that electoral behavioral down in the 1% range is far more complex and hard to analyze or predict than ABB and anti-Nader activists would have us think, look at the 2000 exit poll from Florida at the MSNBC site, see the 25th question (unfortunately they're not numbered -- hit CTRL-F or Edit->Find and search for "If these were the only two").
It shows that if Gore and Bush were the only candidates on the ballot in 2000 in Florida, Bush wins 49 to 47 over Gore. That's right. And it's not because of Buchanan being out. Nader got 97,000 votes. Buchanan and all other candidates got only 40,000 total. And the data shows that Bush gets none of the Buchanan voters, but gets half the Nader voters. 250,000 Florida Dems actually voted for Bush. Maybe they wanted Clinton impeached, and felt Gore should not have defended Clinton. The fact is, people vote in complex ways.
So why would Gore actually LOSE ground to Bush with Nader out? Most likely explanation is that many Gore voters would have stayed home if Nader had not woken them from their political slumbers. The numbers make it pretty clear. The poll shows that 2% of voters would not have voted -- between 1.5% and 2.5%, that is. Nader got 1.4% and other minor candidates got .6%, equals 2.0%. But 1% of 47% of respondents who say they would have voted for Gore in a two-way contest with Bush, actually voted for Nader -- equals something between .24% and .73% of all voters who would have switched from Nader to Gore rather than stay home. Same range, .24% to .73% would have switched from Nader to Bush rather than stay home. So .48% to 1.46% of all voters voted for Nader and would have voted for Bush or Gore in a two-way contest, rather than stay home. That leaves at most 1% of voters who voted Nader and would not have voted in a Bush-Gore-only match. But remember there are 2% (btw 1.5% and 2.5%) who would not have voted at all in a Bush-Gore-only matchy. Thus between .5% and 1.5% of all voters didn't vote Nader, but would not have voted for either Bush or Gore either if they had been the only choices. The exit poll clearly shows Gore losing votes without Nader in, so some Gore voters are likely among that .5% and 1.5% who said they would not have voted at all if Nader had not been in the race. One of Nader's slogans is: "If you don't turn on to politics, politics will turn on you." Apparently he managed to turn on enough Gore voters in Florida in 2000 to hand Gore a victory, and the Presidency. Too bad Gore and the DNC/DLC chose not to fight all-out to keep that victory in court and in the streets.
But there's more curious information in that exit poll question's data. The actual vote was Bush 48 Gore 48 Nader 1.4%, and the numbers show that some voters actually said they would have switched from Gore to Bush if Nader were not in, and about the same amount from Bush to Gore. Why? Here's my guess -- I remember a poll once that showed a high percentage of voters likes to have the President from one major party and Congress from the other major party. Stands to reason that for a sliver of the electorate, this is their main voting strategy. Without Nader, some figured the Dems would do worse down the ticket than with Nader (as was the case with Maria Cantwell who, as even Terry McAuliffe has acknowledged in the face of hard data, was handed her victory by Nader voters who would have stayed home if Nader were not on the ballot), so they vote for Bush to balance what they expect to be a Democrat-controlled Senate and/or House. But others figure (wrongly) that Nader's absence will help the Dems down-ticket so they switch their vote from Bush to Gore to balance what they expect to be continued Republican control of Congress. What other explanation could there be for people saying they would have changed their vote from Bush to Gore or vice versa if Nader were'nt in the race? But that's exactly what about a hundred Florida voters said in that exit poll, which sampled ten thousand voters.
The moral of the story is this: over-simplified thinking about the voting behavior of 1% slivers of the electorate is NOT strategic thinking. Nader launched his campaign this year encouraging all voters and major party leaders to analyze the 2000 election data "like a sports fan," meaning really crunch and squeeze the data for detail.
And in the end, the only thing we accomplish by refusing to put Nader on the ballot in Oregon is to guarantee that the "swing" voters will have a less-informed choice. Their deliberations will be just as convoluted and unpredictable as they always have been, but they will have a narrower range of issues and viewpoints to consider.
Suppose you refuse to sign a Nader petition, either because you support Kerry and think doing so will hurt Kerry's "chances" or because you support Bush and think doing so will hurt Bush's "chances" (as the anti-Nader site cited above ironically "proves"). Then you've just removed a reference point by which voters can guage their choices. That will have an unpredictable effect on whether Oregon goes to Kerry or Bush. But it will have a very predictably NEGATIVE effect on the degree to which our democracy progresses toward a government run with the fully INFORMED consent of the governed, as you will have helped drown out not just another voice, but the most consistently reliable and powerful voice of the past half-decade calling FOR fully informed consent of the governed in all matters that pertain to our daily lives, labors and pursuits.
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