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Nader: Threw The Election To Bush

[ 94 ] January 31, 2008 |

I hate to go through this again, but we have a commenter trying to claim that Nader didn’t throw the election to Bush:

*All votes that Nader received in Florida would have gone to Gore instead;

*The appearance of Nader did not lead to people registering in Florida in order to vote for Gore;

*That Gore would have had the same positions without Nader in the race that he had with Nader in the race, thus meaning that no voters would have shifted from Bush to Gore in the absence of Nader; and

*That the Republicans would not have found a way to steal the Florida election.

The first, and most important, claim is of course transparently wrong; not every single Nader voter would have had to vote for Gore, just enough to throw Florida to Bush. And according to Nader’s own data, this was the case:

Nader is at his slipperiest on the issue of whether his campaign tipped the election to George W. Bush. The evidence that he did so is unambiguous. First, by repeating his charge that there was no significant ideological distance between the two major-party candidates, Nader helped bolster the message of Bush, who sought to blur unpopular Republican positions on key issues. Second, by peeling off substantial blocks of liberals in states such as Oregon, Minnesota and Wisconsin, he forced Al Gore to devote precious time and money to shoring up states that would (if not for Nader) have been safely Democratic, leaving him fewer resources for swing states such as Ohio, Tennessee and Florida. Third, and most directly, Nader won 97,488 votes in Florida. Appearing on a talk show after the election, Nader cited polls that showed that, had he not run, only 38 percent of his voters would have backed Gore versus 25 percent for Bush. Strangely, Nader held up these numbers as a defense against the spoiler charge. Yet the very data cited by Nader, if applied to Florida, shows that he took a net 12,000 votes from Gore — more than enough to hand the state, and the electoral college, to Bush.

So it’s clear that Nader fulfilled the only significant goal of his campaign and threw the election to Bush. The other points made in Nader’s defense are no more persuasive. On #2, if anyone has evidence that Nader’s relentless vilification of Gore and claims that which candidate was elected didn’t matter caused a net positive number of people to register and vote for Gore let’s see it. On #3, 1)again there’s no evidence whatsoever for this having an effect, 2)the states in which an alleged hard turn to the left in Gore’s rhetoric which no Naderite noticed at the time would have been likely to have a net benefit were states Gore won so overwhelmingly minor shifts in rhetoric would have made little difference, and 3)the rhetorical point cuts both ways; how many people did Nader dissuade from voting for Gore with his nonsensical claims that he was indistinguishable from Bush? And on #4, this cannot be known for certain, but we do know that Republicans didn’t steal any other state in which the Dems won a narrow victory. If the Democrats came out ahead in the initial vote count they almost certainly would have held on, especially since the nature of electoral system means that recounts would work in the Democrats’ favor. GOP malfeasance doesn’t let Nader off the hook. And finally, to pre-empt this coming up in comments, the fact that Nader wouldn’t have been able to throw the election to Bush under a more rational electoral system is completely irrelevant to anything.

If Nader doesn’t run, no Bush. It really is that simple.

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Orcinus Fundraiser

[ 3 ] January 31, 2008 |

After publishing what I still think is the most useful review of Liberal Fascism, Dave Neiwert has devoted much of the past several weeks handing Jonah Goldberg his own ass — digging into Pantload’s bogus sources, pointing out his gaping ignorance about the scholarly literature on fascism, and engaging him directly on the substance of the book’s argument (as opposed to — ahem — some people around here, who get their kicks by writing Goldberg fake letters of praise….)

In any event, Orcinus is running a fundraiser at the moment. If Dave and Sarah are semi-regular reads of yours, consider dropping them a few nickels. For chrissakes, if Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Yankee can ask his readers to buy him a new grill….

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[ 15 ] January 31, 2008 |

Brighter than Creation’s Dark is finally starting to grow on me. I’ll have a full write up tomorrow or the next day, but until then I leave you with some favorites of mine from Mike Cooley:

So I’ll meet you at the bottom if there really is one
They always told me when you hit it you’ll know it
But I’ve been falling so long it’s like gravity’s gone and I’m just floating
- Gravity’s Gone

Well, my daddy didn’t pull out, but he never apologized
Rock and Roll means well, but it can’t help tellin’ young boys lies.
- Marry Me

And I ain’t gonna crawl upon no high horse
Cause I got thrown off of one
when I was young and I ain’t no cowboy
so I ain’t going where I don’t belong.
- When the Pin Hits the Shell

I got friends in Nashville, or at least they’re folks I know
Nashville is where you go to see if what they said is so
- Carl Perkins’ Cadillac

Your Brother was the first-born, got ten fingers and ten toes
And it’s a damn good thing cause
He needs all twenty to keep the closet door closed
- Zip City

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Thank You

[ 0 ] January 30, 2008 |

I just wanted to say thanks to all of LGM’s commenters. You guys really are the best. You could win a knife fight against any group of blog commenters on the intertubes.

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No No No No No

[ 0 ] January 30, 2008 |

Apparently Ralph Nader has formed an exploratory presidential committee. If the committee is going to do anything other than explore the depths of Nader’s narcissism, it might have a tough time.

While I agree with Nader that calling him a “spoiler” may be a sign of “political bigotry” (even if it’s true), I can’t help but echo Melissa McEwan’s musings:

I’d have a lot more respect for him if he made a concerted effort to make this point—and endeavored to either galvanize a vibrant third party or progressivize the Democratic party—in between elections, instead of popping up once every four years to indulge a vanity campaign. Why isn’t Ralph Nader doing for electoral reform what Al Gore is doing for the environment? He lacks focus. It’s one non-profit start-up after the other, instead of a slow and steady campaign

And honestly, Nader has *got* to know that he is not ever going to win and that by running he is drawing votes from a candidate who, while not perfect, has a real shot of winning and would be a whole helluva lot better than whomever the GOP is propping up. Certainly if he didn’t know that before 2000, he’s got to know it now.

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Obvious Point of the Day

[ 184 ] January 30, 2008 |

Not to belabor the point, but there’s some nonsense going on in this comment thread regarding the Florida primary. The content of the nonsense appears to be the argument that, regardless of the delegate situation, the Florida result represents a true enough picture of the preferences of the Florida electorate. In particular, aimai:

Florida voters could and did turn out in record numbers to cast protest votes for all three candidates in the hope that their votes *would* ultimately count. I just don’t see that “campaigning” or “not campaigning” made any difference at all in such a hotly contested and noisy election. What’s your evidence that people who wanted to vote for obama didn’t turn out for this non race? What poll shows a depressed turnout because of the no campaigning rule?

This spurred me to do a bit of what the kids like to call “research” and “arithmetic”, which produced the following:

New Hampshire:
Democrats: 284104
Republicans: 233381
Reps as % of Dems: 82%

South Carolina:
Democrats: 529771
Republicans: 442918
Reps as % of Dems: 84%

Democrats: 1684390
Republicans: 1920350
Reps as % of Dems: 114%

And that excludes Iowa and Nevada, where turnout is much harder to measure, but in which literally everyone agrees that the Democratic turnout vastly exceeded the Republican. So I’d say, yes, the evidence does pretty conclusively demonstrate that either a)campaigning, or b)the presence of actual delegates has a strong effect on turnout. Strangely, a large number of campaigning politicians seem to agree with this conclusion; they seem to think that the presence of a candidate, the mobilization of his or her political organization, and the spending of tremendous amounts of money on advertising could affect whether people vote and who they vote for. Who knew?

Now, you can make the argument that the Florida Democratic result would have been the same if the candidates had been allowed to campaign, but in doing so you’re making a claim that would need to climb several rungs of plausibility to reach the level of “evidence-free assertion”. In the absence of a campaign from any of the candidates, the Florida result was almost inevitably going to reflect the greater name recognition of Hillary Clinton; indeed, she held similar leads in other states before the actual campaign began.

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Edwards Postmortem

[ 14 ] January 30, 2008 |

Dana and Tom have good posts. To expand on one of Tom’s points, I think Edwards is a lesson in the perils in trying to become president from the Senate, especially from something other than an incredibly safe seat. He built up a bunch of votes that contradicted his current positions, and he had to leave early because he couldn’t risk losing.

I believed at the time — and still do — that had the Iowa caucus in 2004 been held two weeks later 1)Edwards would have won, 2)he would likely have won the nomination, and 3)this would have been the best outcome (although whether he would have beaten Bush, who knows.) As Steve says, in this year he never had a chance given the competition but had a salutary effect on the race.

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Worst American Birthdays, vol. 39

[ 10 ] January 30, 2008 |

Richard Bruce (“Dick”) Cheney turns 67 today.

Words fail.

. . . Mr. Trend discovers that Cheney shares his birthday with Phil Collins. And I’ll simply note the *cough* coincidence that Gandhi was assassinated on Cheney’s 7th birthday, while the VP’s 65th birthday cache included the corpse of Coretta Scott King.

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Democratic Florida Postmortem

[ 32 ] January 30, 2008 |

There was no Florida Democratic primary. Although the high turnout in a non-primary was heartening for Democratic prospects in November, the results are wholly meaningless as there was no campaign and no delegates at stake. Changing the rules ex post facto and claiming delegates for a specific candidate would be unambiguous electoral fraud. And whether the disenfranchisement of Florida Democrats for violating party rules was justified or not, it was agreed to in advance by every Democratic campaign — including the one now trying to pretend that a real election was held. Seating delegates for a particular candidate would not enfranchise Florida Democrats, since they still would not have had the opportunity to vote in a real contested election with actual stakes. The only actual remedy for the party’s decision would be to hold a real competitive primary at a later date, period.

… UPDATE BY ROB: This is the Clinton campaign manager reacting to the initial decision to exclude the Florida and Michigan delegates: “We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process, and we believe the DNC’s rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role.” So no, this isn’t about the Clinton campaign fighting the DNC to empower the benighted masses in Michigan and Florida; the campaign supported the DNC’s decision up to the point it became in their interest to want to change the rules. Also see Ezra.

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GOP Florida Postmortem

[ 10 ] January 30, 2008 |
  • On the wonderfully ignominious collapse of Rudy!, I think Noam Scheiber gets it right: “Was Rudy’s strategy flawed, or was it the candidate? I say the latter. Rudy spent a good chunk of time and money in New Hampshire in November and December. The net effect was to move his numbers down.” Right. Claims that Giuliani’s problem was strategy ignores not only the substantial amount of time and money he spent in New Hampshire but the fact that he effectively pulled out early for good reason; he was cratering. It’s hard to see that just doing the same thing would have suddenly started working. The Florida firewall strategy had no chance of working, but that’s because nothing can work when active campaigning actually hurts your numbers. It should also be noted that Giuliani was never a genuine frontrunner; you’d think that Lieberman 2004 would have made it clear that national polls well in advance of the primaries mean virtually nothing, but some people apparently have ot be reminded every four years.
  • John Holbo wonders how conservative pundits who have been attacking John McCain relentlessly (“perhaps not more liberal than Obama?” These people are nuts…) will deal with his impending nomination. It should be easy for conservatives to get over their McCain issues since overall he was always the most conservative of the major candidates, but of course if these pundits were rational they would already see that. I think he’s leaving out the most obvious one, though. If the Democrats give the GOP the gift of Clinton, which still seems very likely, these pundits can pretty much ignore McCain and focus entirely on Hillary Clinton’s purported Trotskyism, murder and drug running operations, “shrillness,” her husband’s penis, etc. This almost exclusively misogynist resentment plus Clinton derangement strategy may not be enough — ask Bob Dole — but it’s clearly where the conservative punditocracy is headed.
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Fox News Follows The Trajectory of Their Favorite Candidate

[ 11 ] January 30, 2008 |

Hitching your wagon to Rudy! really wasn’t a great idea…

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Bill Kristol: Man of Vision (Reprise)

[ 19 ] January 30, 2008 |

As djw reminded us recently, the long overdue self-destruction of the Giuliani campaign continues to be immensely pleasing, whatever else happens from here. And Fred Thompson’s quiet departure for the rendering plant was also quite satisfying — partly because a lot of people blew their allowance on him at the last minute, and partly because it gave the irrepressible Ben Domenech the chance to use the word “poontang” in a sentence and fantasize about being as virile as a 65-year-old guy with a “silly hat rule.”

I’m a bit more ambivalent about Huckabee’s meltdown, since he so clearly represented the squirrel-fried Jesus wing of the Republican Revolution that deserved more than a month’s exposure before being locked back up in the shed. Still, after his intimations of flagpole sodomy and his dreams of appending Leviticus and Deuteronomy to the Constitution, Huck’s downward spiral gives us the chance, just for shits and grins, to revisit the splendor of Bill Kristol’s inaugural column for the Times.


I was watching the debate at the home of a savvy, moderately conservative New Hampshire Republican. It was at this moment that he turned to me and said: “You know, I’ve been a huge skeptic about Huckabee. I’m still not voting for him Tuesday. But I’ve got to say — I like him. And I wonder — could he be our strongest nominee?”

He could be. . . .

His campaigning in New Hampshire has been impressive. At a Friday night event at New England College in Henniker, he played bass with a local rock band, Mama Kicks. One secular New Hampshire Republican’s reaction: “Gee, he’s not some kind of crazy Christian. He’s an ordinary American.”

Let’s congratulate the Times once again for the worst personnel move since the Mariners picked up Heathcliff Slocumb.

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