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The Ralph Nader Effect On Obama and McCain

erku's picture

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Ralph Nader's presence on the ballot in 2008 actually helps Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, according to at least five national polls conducted over the past three months.

In each of these polls, Obama's spread over Republican Candidate John McCain widened by an average of more than 3 percent when Nader and Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr were included on the menu of choices.

By conventional wisdom, this would make sense if Barr did better than Nader in these polls, but that was not the case. Nader was ahead of Barr in four of the polls and tied in the other. On average, Nader polled 2 percent higher than Barr.

The two strongest explanations for why Nader helps Obama are:

Obama's Intensity of Support
Obama's supporters are more loyal than McCain's. In the most recent NBC/WSJ Poll, only 5 percent of his supporters jump ship when the poll question is opened up to four choices (Nader/Barr/McCain/Obama), whereas 10 percent of McCain's do.

The Hillary Voter Factor
Many Hillary supporters (half according to the most recent NBC/WSJ poll) do not want to vote for Obama. With Nader on the ballot, they have another choice to lodge their vote with other than McCain.

"All of this underscores the fallacy of considering third party and independent candidates only so far as they affect the two-major party horse race. The truth is elections, especially one as volatile as 2008, are decided upon by thousands of variables that can cut both ways. Nobody's entitled to votes. However, they are entitled to a level playing field which does not exist today for third party and independent candidates," said independent candidate for President Ralph Nader.

"We all have to earn our votes, and in this volatile election year, that is as true as ever," Nader added.

One of Obama's key advantages over McCain at this point has been the intensity of his supporters' loyalty.

Obama will have a difficult time maintaining this loyalty if he continues to take positions so at odds with the Democratic Party grassroots that agree with Nader/Gonzalez on dozens of issues.

Obama has sold progressives up the river on many issues including: caving on single payer health care for all, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and potentially Iran, expanding the military budget, opening the door to offshore drilling, voting for the snoop bill FISA and The Patriot Act, and supporting the death penalty, corporate tax cuts, wasteful corn ethanol, nuclear power, NAFTA and hardline-militarist Israelis.

"Next week at the Democratic Party Convention, Obama has a chance to reverse course from his many corporatist and militarist concessions, since he clinched the nomination," Nader said.

"If he doesn't, the converging forces of liberal Republicans and some progressive Democrats that are presently considering Obama will have good reason to jump ship for Nader/Gonzalez."

Reported by Nader for President 2008

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