Hoisted from the comments: Did Nader cost Democrats the Presidency in 2000?

There are good reader comments to this post. Reader ntoo challenges Vance Wittie’s claim that Ralph Nader’s Green Party candidacy in 2000 “brought us George W. Bush:”

“brought us George W. Bush”? Florida 2000? 537 votes… Many thousands went uncounted for various reasons both dubious and legitimate. Multiple other left candidates (including a communist) received more than 537. Clinton didn’t win Arkansas (6 electoral votes) for the VP. Gore didn’t even win his home state of Tennessee (11 ev). Alter any of those factors, which had nothing to do with Nader, for Gore rather than Bush and Gore is president.

What about the exit polls that suggested Nader voters would’ve stayed home or not voted for Gore?

James Fallows answers this argument in his excellent open letter to Nader, whom he once worked for:

Like your other friends and admirers, I know you [Nader] will never concede that the 97,000+ Green votes you got in Florida in 2000 helped give George W. Bush his 500+ vote margin over Al Gore in the Florida recount. And thus, with the help of the U.S. Supreme Court, the presidency. Again, I know that you will not concede it; but I note that virtually everyone else thinks it is so.

. . . [H]ow do you advance the longer term argument for fundamental reform without handing the keys, in the here and now, to the party that is even more fervently against causes you care about? As most people think happened in 2000? I don’t know, but my experience is that third parties and intra-party challenges don’t have the effect you hope. . . . As for the primary challenges, what similarity do we notice between Jimmy Carter (challenged by Edward Kennedy in 1980) and George H.W. Bush (challenged by Pat Buchanan in 1992)? What we notice is: they held onto the nomination and went on to lose the general election. . . .

Obama is more centrist than is ideal for the current economic climate (a time when another FDR or LBJ would be better for the country), but Perry is George W. Bush on steroids, with a lower IQ and fewer scruples.

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About Guy N. Texas

Guy N. Texas is the pen name of a lawyer living in Dallas, who is now a liberal. He was once conservative, but this word has so morphed in meaning that he can no longer call himself that in good conscience. Guy has no political aspirations. He speaks only for himself.
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One Response to Hoisted from the comments: Did Nader cost Democrats the Presidency in 2000?

  1. hortonw says:

    All else equal, had Ralph Nader not been on the Florida ballot, Gore would have beaten Bush. There is no way that less than 537 (net) of the 97,400 Nader voters would have voted for Gore. No way. Not even a close question. If it were a serious question I would offer facts to respond. But it does not rise to that level.

    Whether that means it’s Nader’s fault depends on the perspective from which the question is being studied. If we are looking at it from the perspective of Nader then, yes, he caused that result. He made the choice to run, knowingly took the risk and but-for his choice the result would have been different.

    If we are looking at it from Gore’s perspective, it’s more complex. He had plenty of other chances to win — including carrying TN, AR or paying some attention to the butterfly ballot issue before it was too late. From his perspective, lots of things could have been done differently and he would have won, and only one of those things is Ralph Nader. But, for Nader himself, that’s the only one thing that really matters and he blew it — all for the greater glory of his collosal ego.

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