The 2000 election nightmare -- again


Mark Follman
April 2, 2004 1:17AM (UTC)

Democrats will wish that its only an April Fool's Day joke: Today the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Ralph Nader, according to several new national polls, is set to walk away with 4 to 6 percent of the vote this November -- perhaps just enough to parade George W. Bush, whos currently in a statistical dead heat with John Kerry, back into the White House. It's still far too early in the campaign to know if the polls are on target, but what's more troubling is their indication of the specific damage that the Dems' most hated spoiler might cause:

"In key states, where mere dozens of votes could change the outcome and swing the electoral vote for president, early polls show Nader taking enough of Kerry's potential supporters to make it possible for Bush to win the state."

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And the most likely stage for Nader's encore? That's right: Florida.

"A sampling of polls in battleground states shows loud echoes of 2000. In Florida, where Bush defeated Gore by 537 votes in 2000, and Nader got more than 97,000 votes, or 2 percent, polling shows Kerry at 49 percent, Bush at 43 percent and Nader at 2 percent."

The Chronicle report forecasts a similar narrative in several other swing states, including Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Ohio. For his part, Nader continues to argue that his candidacy will sharpen the Democratic campaign to the tune of "populist-progressivism," while siphoning off some disgruntled Republican and independent voters who might have once supported Bush. But Democratic strategists arent buying it, and the latest numbers have them once again holding their noses.

"Ralph, to me, is someone who has increasingly marginalized himself in American politics by his own actions and, as a result, he does this to try to make himself relevant," Bill Carrick, a Democratic consultant, told the Chronicle. "There's no way you can't say he has some impact and that he is helpful to Bush. To me, it just smells like an ego trip."


Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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