Nader Effect in 2000

Sorry to bring this up… but the issue does not go away.

How much damage to Gore did Nader really cause? what states would have been taken by Gore had the Nader voters choose him instead?

I believe there were only two states Nader’s votes exceeded the Bush margin of victory, Florida and New Hampshire. Either would have given Gore victory. Gore would have had to take an overwhelming percentage of Nader votes in NH, but Florida the slimmest advantage would have been enough.

Under the assumption that time and money positively affects voting, Nader’s support in a number of states Gore actually won was very harmful. A number of states Gore won by a very slim margin, but without Nader in them, resources and effort might have been redirected to other states to affect a change in the outcome.

Ahh Nader…
Wence have gone the days of throwing slot machines in the river and busting the balls of devious automechanics?

Nader… unsafe in any electorate.

I’m pretty sure that if Nader wouldn’t have run, we’d have President Gore today. I think that one more factor has to be thrown into the equation. Clearly, the vastmajority of Nader voters would have voted for Gore but a large number of them might not have voted at all with out Nader in the race. You can’t give all of those votes to Gore. Still, I think it would have made the difference in Florida and that would have changed the outcome.


Gore’s losing the election in the wrangle following November is Gore’s fault - not the fault of those who were disgusted by both mainstream parties’ candidates.

Let’s take a look at Florida, one of the two states under consideration. According to this site, Gore lost the state by a mere 537 votes. The morass of irregularities that came out after November - the butterfly ballots sending Gore votes to Buchanan and the egregious incidents of Black voter disenfranchisement, for example - should more than account for that miniscule difference. Gore had more than enough basis for challenging the whole state election on those grounds alone.

And what of voter apathy? What percentage of Floridians - or voters nationwide - stayed home who actually might have voted for Gore if he’d stood up and presented a real alternative to Bush? The breakdown of the voting population from this paper (the chart I refer to is on page 3) shows that some 33% of the voting-age population (198 million in toto) hadn’t even registered to vote in 1998. Assuming no real jumps in registration between 1998 and 2000, that’s roughly 65 million potential voters. Given that only 105 million people voted in the 2000 election - the overall total from the first site I linked to - that leaves an incredible 25-30 million registered voters who didn’t participate in the 2000 election. If you’re looking for reasons Gore lost, you should be asking yourselves how come Gore couldn’t motivate those ~95 million to vote instead of asking how come Gore couldn’t swing more of the Nader vote. Don’t blame the Nader voters for being disgusted with the other two. At least we got out and voted.

First, let me say that Bush won the election, so “what ifs” are speculative by design, and there’s no way we can get a definitive answer.

I have to disagree that it is entirely Gore’s fault that he didn’t get other votes. I know of several college students who did not vote appropriately. Instead of voting for their favorite candidate, they voted for Nader, hoping that the Green Party would get 5% of the total vote. Most of them did not consider Ralph Nader an appropriate candidate for President but rather wanted to support additional voices in national debates. It is partially the voters’ fault that they cheated democracy by NOT voting for their favorite candidate. I heard several hardline democrats wish they had voted properly after the fact.

I am not claiming that all the Green Party voters would have voted for Al Gore, or even would have come out to vote. But I believe that a significant number of the voters in Florida believed Gore would have won anyway and wanted to support Nader given a Gore victory. I think it would have been enough votes to swing the election the other way. Looking at post-election results, if even 2% of Nader’s voters were actually Gore supporters feeling sorry for the Green Party, Florida would have gone to Gore.

That’s not a lot of people, roughly 1700 votes, out of over 96000. I don’t find it hard to believe that at least 1700 of those 96000 supported Nader only because they believed Gore would have carried Florida.

Take a look at that election results breakdown I linked to, Antibob.

Gore: 50,999,897 votes - 48.38% of the total
Bush: 50,456,002 votes - 47.87% of the total

From the perspective of simple vote tallies, Gore won. From the perspective of an outmoded 18th-century compromise with Southern slave-owners to count 3/5 of its population that didn’t even have the right to vote and a Supreme Court packed with nominees from the previous two Republican administrations, Bush won. Which, to you, seems the more democratic method of the two?

The Electoral College. Why? Because it was the way we had agreed to decide to outcome going in. Every single person involved in the race for the Presidency knew how the election was to be decided, knew that the total of all the votes in all the states was a meaningless factoid, knew that the Electoral College result was to be honored just as it had been in every election in the past, including those in which the future President had a minority of the total vote cast, and knew that all their efforts were required to go into getting a majority of the Electoral vote. Changing any of that mid-election - or post-election - would be the most undemocratic outcome possible short of actual revolution.

Is this even a reasonable statement? Statistically, can more than 100 million votes be counted with a margin of error less than 0.51%? I don’t think so.

tjblack: Given that I got those numbers from the Federal Election Commission website, I’d say it’s a pretty reasonable statement to make. After all, as far as I understand it, they’re the ones charged with making sure the votes are counted as accurately as possible, no?

Exapno: Forgive the Pitworthy language, but what’s this “we” shit? The Electoral College was dreamed up by a handful of men some 200 years ago when the only eligible voters were 21-year-old white property-owning males. The southern states had less of them than the Northern states did and tried to give themselves added weight in the election process - thus the Three-Fifths Compromise, in which three out of every five slaves in the South counted as population, which is of course one of the factors in determining the number of electors from each state. When, as I’ve already said, they didn’t have the right to vote in the first place.

Secondly, the total of actual votes cast is anything but a meaningless factoid. It is the material basis of democracy. And any political device that allows for the possibility that the candidate the majority didn’t vote for could win the election is thus anti-democratic. Besides, simply saying “that’s the way we’ve done it in the last fifty-odd elections” doesn’t justify it as the right way to do it.

So getting rid of the Electoral College is undemocratic? Are you saying, then, that if a national referendum were held and more than 51% of the voters were in favor of eliminating it and establishing direct elections for the Presidency, that democracy would have been thwarted?

This is either completely irrelevant, if you are merely spouting fun historical facts, or completely wrong, if you are implying it has any bearing on how U.S. electoral college votes are allocated today.

Each state has a number of electoral college votes equal to the number of House seats it holds plus 2. That’s it.

Sez you. The electoral college in the U.S. serves a number of valuable functions. Most notably, it forces candidates to seek national, rather than regional, support because they cannot offset being loathed in one region with massive popularity in another. Democracy is not just a simple matter of doing whatever is most popular. It also involves following rules that have been agreed to before hand. Changing the rules retrospectively because you don’t like the outcome is the antithesis of democracy.

I don’t know if he’s saying that, but I am. The procedure for electing a U.S. president is laid out in the U.S. Constitution. That constitution has a procedure for ammending it. This does not involve either national referendums or simple majorities.

Democracy is not demagoguery.

Sorry olentzero, I’m afraid that Truth Seeker is living up to his/her name.

The three-fifths compromise is not the basis of the Electoral College or the way that electors are allocated. The origins are a great deal more complicated than that. There were a minimum of 60 ballots on the subject of how to elect a President taken during the Constitutional Convention. “Five times, the Convention voted in favor of having the President appointed by Congress. Once they voted against that, once for electors chosen by the state legislature, twice against that, and then voted again and again to reconsider the whole business.” (Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia)

This was after the compromise that gave the Senate two seats for each state, which itself was a different issue than counting slaves (a word never used in the final text) as three-fifths of a person for apportioning House members. You are conflating all these issues into one misunderstood version of events.

There is no way to recapitulate the messy twists and turns of the Constitutional Convention on a message board. Go find a good book on the subject. There are many.

Whether the Electoral College should be retained is an argument that has been going on nearly since the Constitution was ratified. It is not a trivial matter that we’ve always done it that way and have made no serious moves to change it. (Yes, we. We the people of the United States and our elected representatives for the past 200 odd years and every single person who entered the race for the Presidency over that time.) Again, as TS indicated, there is a procedure for all those “we’s” getting rid of it. It has never been used and never come close to being set into motion. National referendums don’t exist and a national opinion poll on the subject would be meaningless.

There are arguments for and against the Electoral College and these too fill books. The unforeseen consequences of such a major action are significant. For one thing, direct election may make third parties even less viable than they are now or turn them even more into spoilers. Any close election would also require not just to recount of votes in a few counties, but in every election district in the country, possibly dragging out elections even more than in 2000 and precipitating court battles from every state.

We could change the system. I would want a long national discussion of pros and cons first. But no matter what change was put into effect, it could only start in future election cycles so that everybody went into the race knowing what means were to be used to determine the outcome. That’s a good definition of democracy right there.

As an FYI, I had a very recent thread that may have touched on some issues of interest:

And how, pray tell, are the number of House seats determined?

Right, like there haven’t been mad scrambles for the states with the most electors. If the number of electors is directly determined by the state’s population (which it is), then the candidates still end up vying for the states with the largest populations.

Right, because we all know the masses are so ill-informed that whatever they want could not possibly be the right thing to do.

Changing the rules when they’ve been proven not to work is one of the pillars of democracy.

Right, God forbid the people who are actually bound by a country’s laws should have a direct voice in changing or amending them.

Neither is the will of the majority.

Allow me to quote directly from the text I linked to earlier:

The text further goes on to note that this compromise, originally suggested by Madison, was adopted at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 - at the same time the nature of the House and Senate were being debated. Which issue came first is more or less irrelevant, as they were both framed in the Constitution. (Article I, Section 2 for the 3/5 Compromise, Section 3 for the Senate, if your want to get into specifics.) And though the word “slaves” was not explicitly used in the wording, when you read

it isn’t too difficult to figure out what the Founding Fathers meant.

This is really veering into GD territory. For the record, and in answer to the OP, Nader probably was a spoiler in the 2000 election. Here are the complete, official results. Note that Louie G. Youngkeit captured 161 votes.

Having said that, I will respond with factual answers and skip the argument, regardless of how much Olentzero’s misplaced sarcasm begs for it.

Every ten years, there is a census. The number of House seats each state gets is re-allocated on a one-person, one-vote basis. There are, however, some approximations, e.g. every state is entitled to at least one House seat, regardless of population.

Not exactly. Once a candidate gets 50%+1 votes, all further votes are useless. In other words, winning 90% of the vote in California will not get you any more votes than winning 50%+1 votes. Nor will it help you overcome winning only 49% of the vote in New York. This is essentially what happened to Gore. He had a very strong appeal in certain areas and outpolled Bush by almost 2-1 in states like NY and MA. These two states alone provided Gore with almost 2.5 million “extra” votes. This, however, didn’t help him overcome small deficits in many other states.

This one does have factual answer. The rules do work. The people who think they don’t work are actually disagreeing with what it is the rules are trying to accomplish.

As this falls squarely into the “misplaced sarcasm” category, I’ll pass.

Yes, and? Once again, if you are implying that this has any relevance today, you are wrong.

Truth Seeker, I linked to that same chart a few posts ago. My point, however, was to show that Nader was not a spoiler, since there were some 95 million voters, both registered and unregistered, who didn’t participate in the 2000 election. That whole mass of untapped potential makes any whining about Nader being a spoiler vote completely unjustified.

And what is it that the Electoral College is trying to accomplish? The continuation of democracy? Gore got 500,000 more votes than Bush in 2000, yet the Electoral College handed Bush the victory. How is that democracy?

The Electoral College, based as it is on population counts (which your answer, if somewhat murkily, confirms) was created at a time when the vote was restricted only to propoerty-owning white males age 21 and over (hardly a democratic beginning!) and was manipulated to give one segment of those men representation in the government out of all proportion to their actual numbers. It is anti-democratic in origin and continues to show its anti-democratic colors when the candidate who gains the majority vote of the populace nevertheless loses the election.

Okay, then let’s gore (sorry) all the oxes equally.

1996 – Clinton, 49.24% of the popular vote

1992 – Clinton, 43.01%

1968 – Nixon, 43.6%

1960 – Kennedy 49.72%

1948 – Truman, 49.5%

How many recounts should we demand?

I think pretty clearly he meant a device which allows for a candidate who didn’t win a plurarity to win the office. However, I agree that at that point, we’re not discussing what is, but rather what some feel should be, which is the domain of GD, or IMHO, or MPSIMS.

Let me joint the chorus here in saying that this argument is completely irrelevant today, not to mention historically inaccurate. You are perhaps under the erroneous belief that in the 18th and early 19th century, a state’s electors to the Electoral College were chosen by popular vote. Not true. The Constitution did not require a popular vote; it stated simply,

For the first presidential election, in 1792, there was no popular vote. The state legislatures took it upon themselves to choose the presidential electors. Not until the 1824 presidential election did the popular vote play a significant role in choosing presidential electors.