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March 4, 2004

Deep breaths, everybody.

Daniel Radosh

AP poll finds Bush and Kerry tied, Nader at 6 percent: "In the first poll since John Kerry locked up the Democratic nomination, Kerry and President Bush are tied while independent Ralph Nader has captured enough support to affect the outcome, validating Democrats' fears.

The Republican incumbent had the backing of 46 percent, Kerry 45 percent and Nader, the 2000 Green Party candidate who entered the race last month, was at 6 percent in the survey conducted for The Associated Press by Ipsos-Public Affairs."

The blogoglobo is sure to nuts over this, but it's probably meaningless. Despite the AP's analysis about affecting the outcome, Nader's percentage of support nationwide tells us nothing. My guess is he's polling well in liberal states that are safe for Kerry and not so well in places where it counts -- because voters know that it does. If I had more time, I'd try to dig up the actual poll results and see if it's broken down by state. send 'em if you find 'em.

Update: Francis writes: "Also, 6 percent is twice the percentage of the national vote that Nader received back in 2000 -- and that was before most people knew better." Yeah, but Nader polled higher than that early on. He won't get any 6 percent of the actual vote this year either.

But while I'm certainly not voting for Nader this time around, I don't buy the people should have known better line, and neither does Sam: "If those results are accurate, why the hell don't the Democrats embrace Nader, and aggressively court his supporters, instead of wringing their hands and whining about him being a spoiler?! In my view, Democrats aren't wimps because they're bleeding-heart-liberals. They're wimps because they AREN'T bleeding-heart-liberals. I'm probably not saying anything here that you haven't already heard. But I'd think that any sensible person, seeing what a fucking mess the Bush people have made, would be outraged. And it would be nice to see and believe that Kerry is pissed off about it too. I'm not seeing that, and I don't think it's because I have limited vision."

Well, Kerry has said, "the Bush administration has run the most inept, reckless, arrogant and ideological foreign policy in modern history." Which sounds pretty outraged. And he'd never say anything he doesn't believe, would he?

Update: Just found the infographic that goes with this poll and whaddayaknow -- it looks like Nader is syphoning votes away from Bush

OK, that could be a false impression, since the last poll was conducted in January, before Kerry's rise and it's unclear whether people were asked about other candidates at the time. Still, you think AP would address this properly, rather than simply pimp out the validating-Democrats'-fears CW.

It also raises a question for those people who consider Nader a spoiler rather than just a legit candidate they're not going to vote for: would you still want him out of the race if he was taking votes away from Bush? To put it another way, was it simply wrong that Pat Buchanan ran in 2000? Don't forget, if you say that "Gore would have won if Nader hadn't run," you'd also have to concede that "Bush would have won if neither Nader nor Buchanan" had run. To my mind, a broader spectrum of candidates enhances democracy, it doesn't spoil it.

Update: Turns out you don't have to concede that exactly. What you have to concede is that Bush would have won if Buchanan (and Libertarian Harry Browne) had not run but Nader still had. See exhaustive analysis here, but ignore all the stuff up top about the popular vote, which is a red herring (both candidates knew going in that it was a race for the electoral vote; if they were both running for the highest popular vote, it would have been a very different campaign). My larger point still holds.

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