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Open Debates
SEPTEMBER 22, 2004
12:51 PM
CONTACT:  Open Debates
Chris Shaw (202) 628-9195
Poll Finds That Majority of Voters Want Third-Party Voices Included in Presidential Debates
57 Percent Want Nader Included

WASHINGTON - September 22 - Open Debates commissioned a Zogby poll of likely voters nationwide to determine which candidates the American people want to see included in the 2004 presidential debates. The poll found that 40 percent of likely voters want to see presidential debates that only include John Kerry and George W. Bush; 57 percent of likely voters would like to see “other candidates” included. (See Question 1 below)

Of the four third-party candidates who have the potential to be on enough state ballots to win an Electoral College Majority, only independent candidate Ralph Nader attracted support for his inclusion in the debates from a majority of likely voters. Fifty-seven percent of likely voters believe that Nader “should participate” in the upcoming presidential debates with Kerry and Bush, and 40 percent believe that Nader “should not participate” in the debates. (See Table 1 below.)

Were Nader to maintain a position on enough state ballots to win an Electoral College majority, he would be the only non-major party candidate to meet the criteria of the newly-formed Citizens’ Debate Commission. The Citizens’ Debate Commission has adopted criteria that would include candidates who 1) are on enough state ballots to win an Electoral College AND 2) either register five percent in pre-debate polls or a poll show that a majority of likely voters support their inclusion.

Less than 50 percent of likely voters supported the inclusion of third-party candidates Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party, David Cobb of the Green Party, and Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a private corporation, will be excluding Ralph Nader from the 2004 presidential debates.

“The CPD is defying the wishes of the American people, and serving the interests of the Republican and Democratic Parties, rather than the public interest,” said George Farah, executive director of Open Debates.

More Democrats and Republican supported the inclusion of Nader in the debates, than opposed his inclusion. Sixty-two percent of independents supported Nader’s inclusion.

“We need to replace the CPD with a genuinely nonpartisan sponsor that will include the candidates the American people want to see,” said Chris Shaw, organizing director of Open Debates.

The CPD was created by and for the Republican and Democratic Parties. In 1986, the Republican and Democratic National Committees ratified an agreement “to take over the presidential debates” from the League of Women Voters, and fifteen months later, then-Republican Party chair Frank Fahrenkopf and then-Democratic Party chair Paul Kirk incorporated the CPD. Fahrenkopf and Kirk still co-chair the CPD, and every four years, the CPD implements contracts jointly drafted by the Republican and Democratic nominees.


Zogby International conducted interviews of 1,066 likely voters chosen at random nationwide. All calls were made from Zogby International headquarters in Utica, N.Y., from 9/17/04 through 9/19/04. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, and gender to more accurately reflect the voting population. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Numbers have been rounded to the nearest percent and might not total 100.

Results Summarized

Question 1. Should only Democrat John Kerry and Republican George W. Bush participate in the upcoming Presidential debates, or should other candidates also be included?

Other candidates included 57%
Only Kerry and Bush 40%
Not sure 4%

Question 2-5. I’m going to read you a list of presidential candidates. Please tell me if you believe each candidate should or should not be allowed to participate in the upcoming Presidential debates with Democrat John Kerry and Republican George W. Bush.

Independent candidate Ralph Nader: 57% Should Participate 40% Should Not Participate 3% Not Sure

Libertarian Party’s Michael Badnarik: 44% Should Participate 47% Should Not Participate 10% Not Sure

Green Party’s David Cobb: 43% Should Participate 47% Should Not Participate 10% Not Sure

Constitution Party’s Michael Peroutka: 41% Should Participate 4% Should Not Participate 11% Not Sure

For the complete Cross Tab Results, please visit:

For the complete Report, please visit:



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