Nader Is Still on the Radar in Key States
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader might be on fewer states’ ballots this year -- 34, compared with 44 when he ran as a Green Party candidate in 2000 -- but he’s still a variable in a campaign with squeaker races in a handful of states.
Many of the 34 states listing Nader on their ballots are solidly Republican or Democratic. But a few swing states -- Florida, Iowa and Wisconsin -- will have Nader thrown into the electoral mix.
For his part, Nader is spending his waning days campaigning in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.
Connecticut and New York appear firmly behind the Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John F. Kerry, so Nader should have no appreciable effect in those states. Polls have shown a tighter race between Kerry and Bush in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, so Nader could be factor there.
The consumer advocate collected nearly 3% of the nationwide vote in 2000 -- about 3 million votes -- but this year his campaign has no specific numerical goal.
“It’s not really a percentage kind of thing, especially with the Democrats knocking us off the ballot in states like California or Texas,” said campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese.
The campaign has fought more than a dozen legal battles over ballot access this year and had thousands of petition signatures thrown out by judges who deemed them unverifiable.
“We’re not expecting to match the vote total from last time,” Zeese said, largely because of ballot access.
Nader’s gospel remains unchanged as election day nears: The candidate opposes the two-party system and the influence of corporations on government, and he wants to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.
His support hovers around 1% or 2% in recent state and national polls.
Nader is dogged by the “spoiler” label that he was branded with in 2000, when many Democrats complained that his showing in Florida prevented the party’s presidential nominee, Al Gore, from carrying the state that determined the White House winner.
The individuals and groups contesting the legitimacy of Nader’s ballot access this year were in many cases Democrats.
The Kerry campaign has insisted it is unfazed by Nader’s presence on ballots in competitive states.
“We know that the American people know that a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for George Bush,” said Kerry campaign spokeswoman Allison Dobson.
Like others Tuesday, the Nader campaign will be eyeing the battleground states closely.
“We want to see what Nader’s impact is,” Zeese said.
Nader’s Northeast swing this weekend is not a strategic one, but one in a series of trips to different regions, including Midwest battlegrounds last week and the West two weeks ago.
Although the candidate’s post-election plans are hazy, “he’ll definitely continue to be an activist,” Zeese said.
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Ralph Nader is on the ballot in 34 states and in Washington, including a number that have been contested by the presidential candidates at some point during the campaign.
Safe for either Bush or Kerry
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