Thursday, September 23, 2004

The mythical Nader effect

These polls reflect what I've suspected for a long time -- the Nader effect that is supposed to help the President is a myth.

Click the link above to see the table of polls, via The bottom line: Bush leads by an average of 5.8% in the head-to-head polls, but only 5.4% in the three-way polls. The trend is reflected in each individual poll as well.

The conventional wisdom, of course, has been that 90% of Nader voters would instead cast their votes for the Democratic candidate if Nader weren't on the ballot. These polls suggest, however, that Nader voters, given a choice only between Rs and Ds, either: a) tend to split their votes fairly evenly between Bush and Nader, or b) do not vote at all.

Remember: a vote for Nader is either a protest vote, or it is a vote cast by the truly irrational person. Nader voters may feel that the Democrats have become too pragmatic and willing to sacrifice core principles for electability; therefore, given the choice between Bush and Kerry, the protest vote, for a Naderite, may be for Bush--in their view, better to vote for the wolf in wolf's clothing than the wolf dressed like a sheep. Nader voters may also realize that it is the Dems, not the Republicans, who have worked to keep their man off the ballot; they may not appreciate the Dems' tactics to try to corral their votes. Again, the protest vote is for Bush -- or to stay home on election day. And finally, Nader voters are overall just weird people whose politics can't make a whole lot of sense -- so who can predict what the hell they'll do?


At 12:45 PM, Blogger Tortfeasor said...

Prof. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia says in an e-mail:

"In sum, you are right on target, and here is the real reason why: Nader is doing so poorly this year, that unless the election is extremely close, he will have no impact at all. Currently, he is getting 1-2 percent and for the reasons you cite, is taking about the same proportion of votes from both bvush and Kerry. Nader is a non-factor, and this is in the tradition of third party candidates who run consecutive races for president. Keep up the good work."


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