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government selection 2004

Nader emerging as threat Democrats feared

She said the profile of likely Nader supporters was changing and beginning to resemble that of voters who supported Ross Perot, the third-party candidate in 1996, rather than those who supported Nader in 2000.

His backers then tended to be split equally between men and women and were white, liberal and college-educated, according to pollsters. But Greenberg said voters who support him now tend to be white men, blue-collar, fiscally conservative, populist, against open trade, angry about the high cost of health care and prescription drugs and fiercely opposed to the war in Iraq.
International Herald Tribune, France
Oct. 16, 2004
 http://www.iht.com/articles/2004/10/15/news/nader.html


The New York Times

WASHINGTON With less than three weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Ralph Nader is emerging as just the kind of threat that Democrats feared, with the potential to tip the balance in up to nine states where George W. Bush and John Kerry are running neck and neck.

Despite a concerted effort by Democrats to derail Nader's independent candidacy, and despite his being struck off the Pennsylvania ballot on Wednesday, he is on the ballot in nearly three dozen states. Polls show that he could influence the outcome in nine.

The result in any one of these states could determine who wins the White House, because the national popular vote is irrelevant; the candidate who wins a particular state gets all its votes in the Electoral College, which chooses the president.

Nader, the longtime consumer advocate, said in a telephone interview from California that no one from the Kerry campaign or the Democratic National Committee was pressing him behind the scenes to get out, and he said he thought Kerry would not make a good president anyway.

"He's not his own man," Nader said. "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 Nader went to Kerry's campaign headquarters in Washington for a meeting and afterward praised him as "very presidential." 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 Nader should "end the charade" of a campaign being kept afloat by "corporate backers."

While Nader's support is negligible in much of the country, and scant in some of the nine swing states, even a tiny Nader vote could make a difference. In 2000, when Bush defeated Vice President Al Gore with 271 of the 538 electoral votes, Nader's vote total exceeded the difference between Bush and Gore in eight states: Florida, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Of those states, Bush won Florida and New Hampshire. Because each state and the District of Columbia gets at least three votes, if any Bush state had gone the other way, Gore would have won. Polls show Nader tipping the balance in those same states this year, with the exception of Oregon and the addition of Colorado and Nevada.

The question is what Nader backers would do if he were off the ballot: choose Bush, choose Kerry, or neither. Nader maintained in the interview that "there is no evidence" that he takes votes away from Kerry. He said that surveys by Zogby International show him pulling equally from Bush and Kerry.

But Shawnta Walcott, a spokeswoman for Zogby, said its polls showed Nader drawing far more from Kerry. She said the polls, aggregated from March through September, showed that if Nader were not an option, 41 percent of his supporters would go to Kerry, 15 percent to Bush and 30 percent to another candidate, with 13 percent undecided.

The disparity explains why Republicans have been supporting and encouraging Nader's efforts to get on the 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 that potential Nader voters were difficult to find and hard to track.

She said the profile of likely Nader supporters was changing and beginning to resemble that of voters who supported Ross Perot, the third-party candidate in 1996, rather than those who supported Nader in 2000.

His backers then tended to be split equally between men and women and were white, liberal and college-educated, according to pollsters. But Greenberg said voters who support him now tend to be white men, blue-collar, fiscally conservative, populist, against open trade, angry about the high cost of health care and prescription drugs and fiercely opposed to the war in Iraq.

David Jones, who runs a Web site that opposes Nader, TheNaderFactor.com, said predictions were difficult.

"Nader is appealing to people who think neither party represents their interests," Jones said. "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?"

Democrats belittle Nader's efforts but acknowledge he could make a difference, and even Kerry has adjusted his stump speech in part to try to appeal to potential Nader voters. Kerry now casts Bush as a tool of rich and powerful "special interests" and he has sharpened his critique of Bush's handling of Iraq.

Greenberg said Kerry had helped diminish Nader's appeal through his advertising and in the debates. "Nader is taking less out of Kerry now," she said.

In the interview, 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."

Nader said that his campaign was at the very least producing "great data" for him to use later to fight what he says are restrictive and unfair ballot-access laws. He is still in litigation to get on the ballot in Ohio, where Bush and Kerry are in a dead heat and where polls show Nader drawing 1 percent of the vote. He is also appealing the Pennsylvania decision.

And Nader said that in the long term, his fight now 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."

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