Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 15, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

GO, RALPH, GO....In the latest Washington Post poll, Barack Obama is eight points ahead of John McCain. However, if you add Bob Barr and Ralph Nader into the mix, he's ten points ahead (see below). Does that mean liberals should once again be cheering on Nader? What's the party line these days?

UPDATE: Chris Hayes emails to point to a piece he wrote in 2004, when Nader was polling at 5% too. Nickel version: a lot of these people are just low-information independents who name Nader because he's also an "independent." When November rolls around, they'll vote for someone else. Full explanation here.

Kevin Drum 7:18 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Comments

I thought the "party line" was that Saint Ralph ought to be put in the same cell at Gitmo with Shrub and the Dark Lord since there's no difference between Shrub and Gore?

Posted by: Jeff II on July 15, 2008 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Add seven more points to the lead and Obama transforms into Dukakis 2.0 from Carter 1.5.

Posted by: gregor on July 15, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

see "margin of error", kthxbye

Posted by: anonymous on July 15, 2008 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'm always somewhat confused by these polls. They're counting leaners to the extent that they include 99% of registered voters as being for a candidate. The actual turnout is going to be closer to 60%. It seems like some sort of enthusiasm metric would be valuable.

Posted by: asdf on July 15, 2008 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Nader is angry at the Dems because they're not leftist enough; so he hopes they'll lose and gloats when Republicans win. The right approach to childish temper tantrums is to ignore them.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on July 15, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Add seven more points to the lead and Obama transforms into Dukakis 2.0 from Carter 1.5.
Posted by: gregor

Wishful thinking from someone standing in his own filth but smelling roses.

McCain shoots himself in the foot almost daily (and seems to be running out of staff), and will seal the deal at the convention with his acceptance speech.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 15, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

I will be cheering on Ralph when he quits public life or shuffles off this mortal. Which ever comes first.

Posted by: keith g on July 15, 2008 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

The worst line up ever.

Gimme one of the yard darts and a blind fold.

Posted by: Jet on July 15, 2008 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

The excellent thing about this poll is that the first set of figures add up to 99% and the second set add up to 101%.

So it's all mush and garbage anyway when you're talking about differences between two figures that are on the order of 2%.

Posted by: lampwick on July 15, 2008 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

And why aren't they polling for McKinney, the first Green black woman presidential candidate?

Probably takes a few points from Obama in GA that he gains from Barr.

Posted by: lampwick on July 15, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't wish for it at all. Aside from arguments about measurement noise, Obama has been running an increasingly cautious centrist campaign (kinda like Hillary thought she could do in the primaries), and the left wing of the party (myself included, although I never thought I was left wing), are not happy about it. These are just the Democrats that might be tempted to abandon the party and vote for Ralphie.

Posted by: bigTom on July 15, 2008 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

To the extent this is real, I wonder if it's largely the annoyed Hillary supporters getting some way to vote against Obama without having to vote for McCain? In the event, whether or not Nader's on the ballot, I expect most of those folks to either come around; or get annoyed at McCain too, and just stay home.

Posted by: Rich McAlister on July 15, 2008 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Lampwick, the figures don't all add up because of rounding.

2/3 + 2/3 + 2/3 = 2
1 + 1 + 1 = 3 (rounded)

I'd say it's not rocket science, except error in math like that have probably crashed rockets.

(one of the Mars Observers, I think.)

Posted by: MobiusKlein on July 15, 2008 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

fuck Nader

Posted by: cleek on July 15, 2008 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

(myself included, although I never thought I was left wing), -=Big Tom=-

Well, the neo-cons took the right so far right they went far left and just now the conservatives are waking up and thinking, dayum. Those liberals arent what the pundits demonised them as. And Obama isnt really as far left as the neo-cons.

Posted by: Jet on July 15, 2008 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Not much to divine from this based on the crosstabs or other polls. Assuming a straight Obama/Nader and McCain/Barr split, the numbers would be about 48% Obama and 41% McCain.

Factor in that Obama supporters tend to be more committed ("strongly support") than McCain supporters--by maybe a factor of 1.5--and you end up with something close. Well within the margin of error.

In short, there's a lot of noise and the Nader and Barr effects are very difficult to discern with any accuracy. That said, I think Nader will hurt Obama, and Barr will hurt McCain. So... rock on Barr, take a hike Nader.

Posted by: has407 on July 15, 2008 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Nader's the man. Got more brains than Obama and Drum combined. Which ain't saying that much. Obama means at least four more years in Iraq and more NAFTA. Voted for FISA immunity and warrantless government searches. You snotty Democrats won't sound so smug in four years when you are singing "Brother can you spare a dime" under the Obama administration. Democrats - Rubin. Repukes-Paulson. Both parties mean Goldman-Sachs runs the show. Bunch of cretins.

Posted by: el pollo on July 15, 2008 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Hell - I will be voting for him!

Time to send a message to the spineless dems that have enabled every step of the bush administration.

Time to send obama a message - REAL progressive and liberals won't vote for lying liars that support the destruction of the bill of rights - especially by "professors" that proclaim to be experts on it.

GO RALPH AND CINDY TOO!

Either one of them is much more worthy of your support than a corporate shill like obama.

Posted by: on July 15, 2008 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Present-day Nader voters are incurable. They have this unshakable conviction that their vote is part of some personal psychodrama where they demonstrate their moral purity by voting in the stupidest way possible. Paying attention just encourages them.

They're determined to be irrelevant, so I say we let them.

Posted by: jimBOB on July 15, 2008 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm. 8% is not enough to counteract the Bradley Effect...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_effect

Posted by: observer on July 15, 2008 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

McKinney won't cost Obama a thing in Georgia: she won't be on the ballot there.

Posted by: Rand Careaga on July 15, 2008 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Exit polls can have you up by 20. And you can still lose. The same way you can attack Iran from the quagmire of Iraq. The insanity of the GOP and its desperate attempt to cash in everything and run is deplorable. They are looking for a way to make McCain plausible enough to steal another election.
I say impeach Bush and keep them running in circles for the next six-months--we need to keep these guys from damaging us any further. What a disaster!

Posted by: Sparko on July 15, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Go Cynthia McKinney NOT Ralph!

Besides his general ego, I wouldn’t vote for Ralph over his position on Terri Schiavo.

And, in bottom line terms, "pumas," you can actually vote for a woman if you want. AND an African-American, all in one vote. (For actual "pumas" and not McCain stalking horses.)

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on July 16, 2008 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

El Pollo... agreed.

If nothing else, if B.O. wins, I'll have four years of fun here, at TPM, Atrios, etc., telling pseudoprogressive (why can't we use HTML "strike" code here?) "my Democrats right or wrong" bloggers about how wrong they've been.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on July 16, 2008 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't Ralph have a record of failure now? The only thing he has helped to prove in the 21st Century , same as Ross Perot did in the 1990s, is that it is nearly impossible to achieve anything politically outside the two-party system. The most you can hope for as a successful third party candidate is that one of the big party candidates will mimic enough of your message to pick up a few extra votes.

Nader's (relative) success in 2000 hurt the third party movement in 2004. Same thing will happen again this year if he's (relatively) successful. Because the Nader vote is merely a protest vote, this fundamental problem will never be addressed. There's no strategy or political survival instincts there at all. Just vote Nader, show the man! Send a message! Whoo hoo! Show those corporations who's boss!

Posted by: sweaty guy on July 16, 2008 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Sweaty Guy:

We need a parliamentary government, with partial membership off a national list, as in the German Bundestag.

No way in hell the two-party duopoly ever goes for that, though.

"The Frozen Republic," by David Lazare. Best damn book on the issue. Kevin, if you want to actually think outside the box for once, add it to your summer reading.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on July 16, 2008 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

We need a parliamentary government, with partial membership off a national list, as in the German Bundestag.

I agree that our system is flawed in that it excludes third parties. Even something like a run-off for the presidential election, like the French do, would be a step in the right direction.

But third parties in the US seem way too narrowly focused to ever get that off the ground. And yes, Dems and Repubs have a vested interest in stopping them. But a pragmatic party that was willing to align with a larger faction in tactical fights - not campaigning in swing states, for example - might gain some traction. Unfortunately pragmatism goes against everything Nader stands for. No deals with the devil for him! As a result his multiple candidacies will achieve nothing.

I live in Australia, where the Greens are an actual, viable party, if a small one. A lot of this is due to the parliamentary system here, but it is also a result of their tactical thinking, as with they aligned with other opposition parties last year to work against the right-wingers in the senate. But third parties in the US are usually just crusades, and crusaders don't do tactical thinking well. So they achieve nothing.

Posted by: sweaty guy on July 16, 2008 at 5:41 AM | PERMALINK

I'll have four years of fun here, at TPM, Atrios, etc., telling pseudoprogressive (why can't we use HTML "strike" code here?) "my Democrats right or wrong" bloggers about how wrong they've been.

But wouldn't you attract the same number of people who respect your opinion and analytical skill if you just whispered this shit to yourself late at night, alone in the dark?

Posted by: on July 16, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK
....In the latest Washington Post poll, Barack Obama is eight points ahead of John McCain. However, if you add Bob Barr and Ralph Nader into the mix, he's ten points ahead (see below). Does that mean liberals should once again be cheering on Nader?

It means that Obama is essentially the default choice (something you usually see in an incumbent or designated successor) and that the rest of the candidates are, in effect, splitting the anti-Obama vote. You add more candidates of any stripe, and the anti-Obama vote is more divided.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 16, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK
I live in Australia, where the Greens are an actual, viable party, if a small one. A lot of this is due to the parliamentary system here, but it is also a result of their tactical thinking, as with they aligned with other opposition parties last year to work against the right-wingers in the senate.

That "tactical thinking" you credit is also, though, a product of the parliamentary system, which provides a tactical advantage for minor parties to align with other parties; in the U.S. electoral system, it is only possible for a minor party to become viable by displacing (either nationally, as the Republicans did to the Whigs in the mid-19th Century, or locally, as the Minnesota Farmer-Labor party did to that state's Democrats in the early 20th Century) one of the major party as the principal opponent of the other major party. A Green-Democrat alliance (for instance) in the U.S. would just be a reason for people to vote for Democrats, and not of tactical utility to Greens (in terms of becoming a viable party; it might well be of tactical utility in terms of acheiving short-term policy goals, which is one reason why third-parties in the U.S. remain weak.)

Posted by: cmdicely on July 16, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

I love the euphemism "low information voter." It means "dumbass."

Posted by: Paul in NC on July 16, 2008 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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