The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


‘Nader effect’ possible threat?

Many Democrats openly blame Ralph Nader for Al Gore’s lossto President Bush in 2000, but is there the same threat this yearof the “Nader effect”?

Harold Stanley, political science professor at SMU, said Naderis important and can be politically consequential.

“Nader in 2000 certainly got a number of votes in Floridato change the outcome of the election,” Stanley said.”If [this election] is as close as it seems to be now,anything could make a difference, including Ralph Nader.”

This year, in an attempt to prevent another Florida catastrophe,Democrats are rallying to keep Nader’s name off as manyballots as possible.

“Third parties generally have a very hard hill toclimb,” said Professor Stanley. “Democrats have goneafter Nader to the nail and filed challenges to keep him off theballot… they’re fighting him every step of theway.”

Despite these battles, Nader has managed to get on 30states’ ballots for this election. His endorsement by theReform Party landed him seven states, including Florida andMichigan.

Litigation is still pending in states such as Idaho, Illinoisand Hawaii to decide whether or not he will be included.

His supporters have petitioned for his name to be on the ballotsall over the country, but failed to reach their goal in somebattleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. Supporters inPennsylvania did not receive enough names by the deadline, and ajudge in Ohio ruled against Nader finding forged signatures onpetitions circulated by non-Ohioans.

While Nader’s paid staff and volunteers move across thecountry petitioning to get their candidate’s name on theballot, Democrats have made progress to keep his name out of therace. According to an article in the PittsburghPost-Gazette, Democrats won their first battle in Arizona afterfiling lawsuits claiming a majority of the signatures on thepetition were not valid.

Petitions have also been rejected in Arizona, Georgia andIndiana.

Paul Murray, a senior art major and registered independent,understands why the Democrats are working so hard to keep Nader outof the race.

“Liberal voters who are on the fence between Bush andKerry might go with Nader since he is also more liberal,”Murray said. “I understand why the Democrats are trying tokeep him off the ballots.”

But the possibility of a big Nader effect could still beslim.

There are a few major differences between this election and theone four years ago.

In 2000, most people who voted for Nader did not see a bigdifference between the Republican and Democratic candidates so theycast their vote for the Independent Party. This year, most peoplesee a clear cut difference between the, Sen. John Kerry andPresident George W. Bush.

However, Murray said he would not vote for Nader because hewould like to see Kerry elected.

“My absentee ballot will go to Wisconsin, which is aborderline state, and I would like to see it go to Kerry. If I wasvoting here in Texas I might go for Nader since Kerry has no chanceof winning Texas,” he said.

Even if third party candidates have virtually no chance ofwinning, they still play an important role in our democracy.

“Third parties aren’t always designed to win,”Stanley said. “They raise issues, change agendas and areneeded to ventilate issues that the main party candidatesdon’t address.”

Caroline Stevens, a senior history major, thinks third partieshelp the people who are in the political minority, such as strongenvironmentalists.

“If there were just two parties, those other voiceswouldn’t be heard,” she said.

Murray agrees with Stanley and Stevens.

“I wish third parties were more prevalent,” he said.”And I like some of Nader’s ideas, but he justdoesn’t have enough support to back him up.”

The lack of support comes not only from being on a third partyticket, but also from losing the endorsement of the Green Party,the ticket he ran on in 1996 and 2000.

According to the Washington University [St. Louis] campusnewspaper, James Davis, professor of political science said thiscould have a negative effect on Nader’s election results.

“Nader will probably receive fewer votes than lastelection because he lacks the Green Party’s backing andDemocrats are uniting against him,” Davis said.

But Professor Stanley doesn’t think the lack of the GreenParty’s support will be very effective.

“The Green Party in terms of organization is one of thethird parties that has a presence,” Stanley said. “Itprovides ballot access and workers, and it can’t be ignored.But we’re talking 2.7 percent [percentage of popular votethat went to Nader in 2000] and, let’s say, 1.4 percent.It’s not going to make a huge difference.”

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