Salon readers respond to Kevin Criss' letter on who the pollsters are leaving out, and debate whether Nader still matters.

By Salon Staff
Published October 29, 2004 9:30PM (EDT)

[Read "Get Ready for a November Surprise," by Kevin Criss.]

Mr. Criss is completely on target. I have been predicting a blowout and have many bets with friends who think I'm crazy. I'm a cynic, too, so you can't blame it on my being a Pollyanna. My optimism is based on watching signs other than polls, like this one:

Over the Fourth of July we went to "Donk's Li'l Ole Opry" in Mathews, Va. Since there is a show once every two weeks, and since it's the only show in town, it was mobbed. When the most talented singer in the house sang a song that was pro-Iraq war, in spite of her excellent talent she barely got any applause. When a Natalie Maines Dixie Chick imitator sang a song about peace she was applauded overwhelmingly -- in rural, right-wing Virginia. My son, who has had a house down there for quite a long time, was stunned.

-- Sally Raynes

I hope Kevin Criss is right, but I'm afraid he's not. Every four years there is another bold prediction that the youth will turn out in record numbers and sweep the Democrats to victory. It simply has not happened.

Instead, I would take heart in the strong support among Democrats for Kerry (near 90 percent which is pretty much equal to Bush's support from Republicans). Since Democratic turnout in the last few elections is a few points higher than Republicans, and the Independent vote will break even or swing to Kerry, at the national level, it looks like Kerry will win the popular vote.

-- Michael Feldgarden

There have been times when I looked at the polling numbers, saw the Republican party running on a platform of misogyny and racism, and thought "If the GOP can win in a country where women and minorities make up far more than 50 percent of the electorate, perhaps this country isn't worth saving."

But Kevin Criss' letter gives me hope that perhaps Americans have got it together after all.

-- Ed Reed

It's hard for me to know where to even start pointing out where Kevin Criss is full of baloney, but I'll start in my backyard. He says Kerry's going to win Colorado. Well, I live in the state, and trust me, Kerry doesn't stand a chance.

Criss' reasoning is like the New York socialite who was baffled at Ronald Reagan's win in 1980: "But I don't know anyone who voted for him!" Criss and his other "young'ns" are equally self-absorbed, and think their little world is representative of the whole world.

After W. wins on Tuesday, please, please, have Kevin Criss explain how he was so wrong -- without resorting to mysterious, unproven vote-suppression accusations.

-- Tom Neven

In response to Kevin Criss, and his staid, emotionless view of the results of the upcoming election, I can only applaud you cats over at Salon.com, for reminding me what it feels like to be young, blindly optimistic and hyped tha fuck up!

It's not even worth getting into the young brother's guesstimates on election results, but it is worth saying that the impact of "the streets" has been drastically undervalued during this election. Remember, we blew up Tommy Hilfiger and Timberland.

I will concede without too much doubt, that dukes is right, the youth vote is going to play big in this election. Besides, when have you ever seen Puffy jump into a fight that he knew he couldn't absolutely win? It's a nice way for the Puffster to do a "civic," "nonpartisan" service and put those old gun charges to rest for real.

Seriously though, Salon, you're slipping. Myself, Kevin and your 5 other African American readers(and may I add, Premium Members) would like some more representation. In other words, or rather the mangled words of Spike Lee's character Buggin' Out: "Ain't it about time you put some brothers up on that Web site?"

I'm telling you, me and the 6 other black readers are waiting for more diversity in those headlines and bylines.

-- Shawn White

Finally, somebody speaks the truth about what will really happen Nov. 2, and -- surprise -- it comes from a young person.

I agree wholeheartedly with Kevin Criss' assessment that the polls about a "tight race" are nonsense. They're not polling who's really going to make a difference --the youth vote and the disenfranchised.

We here in Minnesota experienced this firsthand with the phenomenon known as Jesse Ventura. "Official" polls had him down in the gubernatorial race by some 10 or 15 points heading into Election Day. During the campaign, Norm Coleman, the Republican opponent (now installed in the U.S. Senate after seizing prematurely deceased Dem. Paul Wellstone's seat), openly - and unwisely -- dismissed Ventura's candidacy as a lark. Well, the young folks didn't like that too much. They showed up in droves that Tuesday and helped the former wrestler "shock the world," as he put it -- for better or worse.

One thing's for damn sure, Criss is right that Bush doesn't have a -- er -- snowball's chance in Minnesota. I don't know where these pollsters are getting their numbers, but they do not reflect what's happening here. I haven't seen the progressives this mobilized since, well, Ventura was elected - and that was a split movement and only arguably a progressive one. Early voter registration numbers are way up, and -- thanks to our state's wise implementation of same-day registration -- you ain't seen nothing yet. Contrary to recent popular opinion, this place is still a progressive bastion in the middle of flyover land.

I have a sense it's a similar situation all over the country. They may not be reflected in the polls, but the disenfranchised will be heard Nov. 2. And loudly, too, because there are a lot of them. Think of it this way: Gore won by a half-million votes four years ago with an anemic campaign, an even more anemic personality. This year, Kerry's campaign is firing on all cylinders, he's shown that he's more presidential than anyone else near the White House is right now, and progressives have learned their lesson about supporting Nader. He'll crush Bush by more than a half-million votes in more than a few individual states, let alone the nation.

Look, conservatives win when nobody shows up. This year -- despite all the Republican machinations to prevent it -- everybody's going to show up. Try to find somebody who says they're not voting this year. I challenge you.

It's not even going to be close.

-- Jeff Shroeder

[Read "Requiem for a Reformer," by Peter Dizikes.]

Peter Dizikes' piece on Ralph Nader perpetuates a common misperception, that Nader believes the major party candidates "identical." What Nader usually says is not that the major party candidates are identical, but that they are becoming more and more similar all the time, which limits their capacity to compete with one another.

Anyone following Nader as closely as Mr. Dizikes did should appreciate this basic but important distinction, but Dizikes does not. He dismisses as a "sound bite" Nader's comment that "You can't have an election without selection." Well, it does rhyme, but that doesn't mean it's not true. Dizikes clearly views any opposition to George Bush other than from the Democratic Party as illegitimate. If so, then the Democratic Party must answer for its failure in that capacity. Dizikes asks whether we would be in Iraq if John Kerry were president. Well, according to Kerry's own answer, we would. At least with respect to the war in Iraq, this really is an election without selection.

-- Oliver Hall

Ralph Nader's sputtering campaign and your negative commentary on it signal how entrenched our 'duopoly' political system has become. Since I live in Pennsylvania, I will not even be given the choice of casting a vote for Mr. Nader. How dare we label ourselves a "democracy" when we have only the choice of two parties, which at their core are dominated by the same corporate interests. This essential truth is why more than half the country does not even bother to vote. I'm sick of trying to distinguish between the lesser of two evils.

-- Tom Johnson

Peter Dizike's story on the pathetic Nader campaign is interesting and accurate, but I question why Ralph is getting any attention at all.

He has failed to get on the ballot in several of the larger states, and has only achieved ballot status in several others by relying on Republican help.

By contrast, Michael Badnarik, the candidate for the Libertarians, is on the ballot in more states, has a real political party backing him, and is poised to get more votes than Nader in this election. Why don't we hear about him?

He's never mentioned in campaign stories, he's never a choice in the national polling reports -- it's like the guy doesn't exist!

I can understand the mainstream Mediacracy ignoring Badnarik, since he is probably more attractive to disaffected Republicans than Democrats, but I think Salon should give the man a little respect.

Let's have a little spoiler parity, please!

-- Ken Erfourth

Salon Staff

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