The most urgent political question facing any progressive this year is whom we should work for and vote for in the presidential election. Ralph Nader offers positions on the issues far closer to the hearts of most of us. But this year, for nearly all progressives, one issue supersedes all others: beating George Bush.
Removing Bush has become such a universal and passionate goal for progressives that a rather amazing transformation has occurred. In 2000, Nader ran primarily on the now famous “Tweedledum and Tweedledee” argument: that there was no significant difference between Gore and Bush. With that position no longer viable in the face of four stunning years of George W. Bush, Nader has adopted a dramatically different campaign premise.
He says this time around, he’ll help beat Bush.
You’ve seen him making this assertion at every opportunity, rationalizing his 2004 campaign by saying he’ll open “a second front” against the president, and that he’ll attract “conservative voters who are furious at Bush.” On CNN’s Inside Politics, he went so far as to say “very few of my votes will come from Democrats.”
It is readily apparent why Nader has adopted this claim: He has little choice. The popular fury at Bush among his natural constituency requires such a stand. But is Nader’s claim true?
In a word, no.
We have just completed a Study, “Poll Watch 04,” of every poll since Nader’s announcement that measures Bush/Kerry head-to-head and Bush/Kerry/Nader in a three-way race. Using the authoritative, non-partisan website PollingReport.com, plus all other polls we could find through Google, the results are overwhelming and clear.
Of the 37 polls reviewed, 32 show Nader hurting Kerry, while 1 shows Nader hurting Bush (and that by a scant 1%). 4 show no effect.
Ralph: Please Tell the Truth
Faced with such overwhelming and objective evidence, we call on Ralph Nader to stop making what must be called, at best, the disingenuous claim that he’ll help beat Bush. The truth is quite the opposite.
Nader’s continued use of the claim that he’ll help beat Bush would now call into question the very foundation of Nader’s remarkable career in public life: his honesty. It’s one thing to engage in wishful thinking, or even in the inevitable exaggerations of advocacy. But when do exaggerations become deceit? In a person running for president, is the “big lie” simply to be expected, or with Ralph Nader were we supposed to expect something better? The facts are absolutely clear – we now ask Mr. Nader to stop misleading his followers in every public appearance with what is now a clear falsehood. Today we are premiering a new 90-second internet movie and PollWatch 04 website to take this case to the progressive community. Again, we ask Mr. Nader to stop making a false claim.
Small Numbers Will Turn a Big Election
The polling data in our study, and the single digit voter percentages involved, take on unique stature due to the unprecedented condition of the American electorate: first, the nation is more polarized than ever; and second, the number of “undecideds” is shockingly low. This means one thing: the outcome of the 2004 presidential election will come down to very small percentages in a small number of “battleground” states. Under such urgent circumstances, and considering the stakes involved, for Nader to peel off progressive voters under the false pretense that he is helping defeat Bush is an act of considerable political cynicism.
Some of the most damaging results came from state-specific polls unearthed by our Google search. Among other things, these six additional polls show Nader flipping New Jersey and Pennsylvania from Kerry to Bush, and causing an 8% swing among the large Arab American vote in the four critical swing states of Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania. In fact, the Associated Press has reported that Nader is swinging six states from Kerry to Bush.
One thing we did not find in our Google searches was a New Hampshire poll Nader has been citing in recent public appearances, which supposedly supports his assertion that he’ll help beat Bush. We’ll be happy to add that poll, and any other, to our running tally of head-to-head vs. three-way polls. But Mr. Nader has made misleading comments about New Hampshire in the past. He often claims that most of his 2000 voters in New Hampshire were Republicans – then fails to add the crucial fact: that the research also shows that the majority of those highly unusual New Hampshire Republicans would have voted for Al Gore had Nader not been on the ballot.
Poll Watch Will Keep Watching
At our new www.DontVoteRalph.net website, we’ll update the Poll Watch 04 study on the Nader Effect from now until the election. There you can also find the name, source, and URL for every poll featured in our study. And we’ll add any reputable poll we may have overlooked that compares the race with and without Nader. In short, if Nader is telling the truth and is helping beat Bush, you can find out there. If he’s not, you’ll know that too.
But after 37 polls, we believe the jury is in, and the verdict is clear. Sadly, Nader’s essential claim for 2004 is another of the big lies of the 2004 campaign.
John Pearce is the creator of RalphDontRun.net, and the successor site, www.DontVoteRalph.net. He can be reached at JohnPearceCD@comcast.net.
 Search term in Google “News” tab using the following three terms: “Nader” “Head-to-head” “Poll”