Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"Third-party candidates are people, too"


The principal indictment is that Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election by drawing votes from Gore in Florida. Gore lost Florida to George W. Bush by 537 votes. Nader received 97,488 votes. National exit polls indicated that had Nader not been on the ballot, 47 percent of Nader voters would have voted for Gore, 21 percent would have voted for Bush, and 32 percent would have stayed home. Therefore, if Nader hadn't run, then Gore would have won.

Well, sure. But in an election this preposterously close, you can blame the outcome on almost anything. In a Feb. 24 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Nader pointed out that seven other third-party candidates on the Florida ballot outpolled Bush's 537-vote margin, too. These included James Harris of the Socialist Workers Party (563), David McReynolds of the Socialist Party (622), and Monica Moorehead of the Workers World Party (1,804). Granted, we don't have exit poll numbers on these candidates, who stood much further left of the mainstream than Nader. But it's doubtful their supporters would have defaulted to the GOP. Should we vilify them for costing Gore the election, too?


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