The Michigan Daily
September 07, 2004
Democrats on campus and around the state say Nader's presence on the Michigan ballot — which came after a state appeals court ruling on Friday that also allowed a proposal to ban gay marriages in the state to be placed on the ballot — could subtract valuable votes from the Kerry camp.
Those votes could have a greater impact here, where Kerry has a weak lead over Bush, than in more solidly Democratic states such as California. Overall, Michigan plays a powerful hand in deciding the president because of its 17 electoral votes that, from election to election, oscillate between Republican and Democratic affiliation.
"It's going to help (Republicans) get George Bush elected if Nader is on the ballot in a swing state like Michigan," said University College Democrats Chair Ramya Raghavan, an LSA junior.
The battle in Michigan will be fiercest on college campuses, Raghavan said, because students represent the bulk of the state's voters who don't normally turn out to the polls. Nader, who will run as an independent candidate, is also stepping up his campaign toward students with stops at Michigan State University and the ballroom of the Michigan Union on Monday.
"He's pretty popular among college students," said Nader's state coordinator, Margaret Guttshall, referring to polls that show Nader performing far better among younger voters than among the voting populace as a whole. She added that his opposition to the Iraq war has won over a constituency disaffected by Kerry's support of military action.
Joellen Gilchrist, chair of the South Oakland County Billionaires for Bush — a political group that lobbies against the president using satirical theater — said Democrats swinging toward Nader will ultimately benefit the president, as group members costumed as swashbuckling billionaires rushed to paste their flyers over signs posted by Nader followers on the Diag.
The Michigan Democratic Party has lashed out at Nader and at state Republicans for petitioning for the independent candidate, but stopped short yesterday of saying that Nader's access to the ballot will imperil Kerry's chances in the November election.
"It's not going to change our effort," said Michigan Democratic spokesman Jason Moon, referring to the court's ruling. But he conceded that "a vote for Nader is a vote to reelect George Bush."
Currently, Nader's Michigan campaign spreads its message mainly by holding social events, engaging people one-on-one and flyering. In Michigan he shies away from aggressive TV and radio advertisements.
Michigan State junior Ryan Dinkgrave, chair of his school's chapter of Students for Nader, said students in Michigan supporting the independent candidate have just recently begun coordinating their efforts.
Many signatures gathered to support Nader's berth in the presidential race are still being contested — including those submitted in Pennsylvania, which has 21 electoral votes. Nader has handed in petitions in 29 states and the District of Columbia.