In the 2000 Florida election, Ralph Nader received 97,488 votes, while Al Gore lost the state (and, therefore, the presidency) by 537 votes to Mr. Bush.
For many Democrats here on DKos that is all they need to know. Nader cost Gore the election.
But to stop there and decide that nothing else matters is to also leave the "reality-based community" label behind, because there are many other numbers that also matter.
Because any mention of Ralph Nader is sure to bring out angry responses, I'm going to stick to provable facts and common sense logic. I'll leave the speculation to others.
I'm going to avoid discussing the Supreme Court in this diary.
#1) The Democratic Party assumption is that most, if not all of Nader's votes came from people who would have voted for Gore if Nader had not run. That is a myth according to exit polls.
In Florida, CNN’s exit polling showed Nader taking the same amount of votes from both Republicans and Democrats: 1 percent. Nader also took 4 percent of the independent vote.
Had Nader not run, Bush would have won by more in Florida. CNN’s exit poll showed Bush at 49 percent and Gore at 47 percent, with 2 percent not voting in a hypothetical Nader-less Florida race.
If Nader hadn't run, about half of the Nader voters would have stayed home according to the exit polls.
#2) OK. So you don't believe exit polls. Then let's look at the actual votes.
Gore lost 191,000 self-described liberals to Bush, compared to less than 34,000 who voted for Nader.
Let's repeat this because it reinforces point #1: self-described liberals overwhelmingly voted for Bush instead of Nader.
Thus simple common sense says that the assumption that Nader's votes would simply go to Gore if Nader hadn't run is wrong (just like the exit polls said).
#3) So why did Gore lose to Bush? Democrats.
there are two other Florida constituencies that cost them more votes than Nader did. First, Democrats. Yes, Democrats! Nader only drew 24,000 Democrats to his cause, yet 308,000 Democrats voted for Bush.
Nader wasn't the real betrayal of Democrats. Democrats were. Nearly a third of million of them.
Even more important, consider the math: since Bush was the main challenger, a Democrat voting for Bush hurts twice as much as a Democrat voting for Nader.
This is a fact. The reality-based community must learn to deal with it.
#4) Everyone seems to forget that there was more than 3 candidates running for office. In fact, there was TEN candidates that got more votes than the ultimate 537 margin.
For instance, Monica Moorehead, the Worker's World Party candidate, got 1,804 votes. I think we can be certain that people that voted for Moorehead wouldn't have voted for Bush. So why blame Nader and not Moorehead? In fact, that's exactly what Michael Moore does.
Had Monica not been on the ballot, it is safe to assume that at least 300 of her supporters would have voted for Al Gore. Exit polls confirm this fact. Al Gore was the second choice of over half of the Moorehead voters!
A vote for Monica was a vote for Bush.
In case you missed it, Michael Moore is being sarcastic. Please read the article. You'll see he doesn't buy the "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush" for a second. Blaming Monica for Bush winning is actually more reality-based than blaming Nader.
But let's not stop there. There's also David McReynolds of the Socialist Party, who collected 622 votes. The Palm Beach Post speculated that it was McReynolds that cost Gore the election according to Wikipedia.
And finally there is James E. Harris, of the Socialist Workers Party who collected 562 votes.
So you see, supporting the "Blame Nader" logic of stealing votes from Gore (whether accurate or not), you must actually spread your blame out to at least three other leftist candidates in order to remain consistent.
#5) So who should a reality-based community really blame for Gore losing Florida? The answer is really quite simple: Al Gore is to blame.
Bush also probably would have won had the state conducted the limited recount of only four heavily Democratic counties that Al Gore asked for, the study found.
On the other hand, the study also found that Gore probably would have won, by a range of 42 to 171 votes out of 6 million cast, had there been a broad recount of all disputed ballots statewide. However, Gore never asked for such a recount. The Florida Supreme Court ordered only a recount of so-called "undervotes," about 62,000 ballots where voting machines didn’t detect any vote for a presidential candidate.
Gore's mistake was not asking for a general recount, only a partial one that he mistakenly thought would give him a better chance of winning. The implicit unfairness of a partial recount was the primary excuse the Supreme Court used to stop the recount. Gore's mistake was not trusting in democracy.
We can either blame every single third party candidate, and thus be anti-democracy, or we put the blame where it belongs - on Al Gore.
[Update: Why bring this up now? Because partisan Democrats stil raise the specter of Ralph Nader whenever there is a leftist candidate challenging an incumbent Democrat.
So why is it OK to mention Ralph Nader then, but not now? Especially when it is a myth?
[Update #2: I thought this was interesting.
Why are we only focusing on the votes he didn’t get from the much smaller Nader pool, than the votes he didn’t get from the much larger Bush pool?
And why are the Dems who voted for Nader expected to “do the right thing” and vote for Gore, more so than the ones who voted for Bush? Why isn’t the party condemning Dems who voted for Bush as turncoats and sell-outs, instead of simply bashing those far fewer who went for Nader? Answer: the Democratic Party is much more comfortable with their members who lean right, than those who lean left, and bashing the former might cost them in future elections, while bashing the latter is seen as safe, because, after all, we have “nowhere else to go.” In fact, Gore lost seven-and-a-half times more Democrats to Bush, than he lost Democrats and Independents combined to Nader.
OK. Some people need help with basic math.
third party voting means a vote for the OTHER party - you can NOT deny that.
Anyone that can do math can deny that. Here, I'll help you.
Let's say there is a race between two major parties: Party 'D' and Party 'R', just to make it simple.
Let's say a voter registered with Party D, votes for a third party. Let's say Party 'G'.
That vote hurts Party D by one vote, but it doesn't help party R.
However, if a voter registered with Party D votes for Party R, that both hurts Party D by one vote and helps Party R by one vote.
1 + 1 = 2
So you see, the 308,000 Democrats who voted Republican in 2000, hurt the Democratic Party many times more than the 24,000 Democrats that voted for Nader.
Yet the Democrats have decided to blame it all on Nader. It makes one think that maybe assigning blame based on reality isn't the point here.
[Update #4: A lot of people are saying that those hundreds of thousands of Democrats that voted for Bush were DINOs, so we shouldn't expect much from them.
Yet these same people are demonizing Nader voters. Well, about 76% of Nader voters in 2000 were not Democrats. They were largely independents.
Does it seem fair to give Democrats who voted for Bush a pass, but demonize independents who didn't vote for Bush?