I finally see just what serious chance Ralph Nader has to get votes come the Nov. 4 elections being held for president across the country – he could be the guy who convinces 7 percent of the U.S. electorate to “Vote for Ralph” for the White House.
Where do I get this 7 percent figure? It comes from the latest Gallup Organization poll, which continues to show Democrat Barack Obama in a slight 3-point overall lead over Republican John McCain.
THAT LEAD ACTUALLY ballooned up to a 6-point margin on Monday, with the polling group suggesting it was due to the positive press Obama is receiving for his Middle East sojourn this week.
Yet on Tuesday, the tracking poll reverted back to what seems to be the pattern of recent weeks – Obama with a 3-point lead over McCain (45 percent to 42 percent, to be exact).
But unlike other recent polls done by Gallup (or any other organization that will survey voters, for a fee), this one broke down the remaining 13 percent – the people who didn’t commit to either Obama or McCain.
As it turns out, just over half of those “undecideds” say they are disgusted enough with both Obama and McCain that there’s no way either one will get their vote for president come the general election. One percent is voting for a third candidate (unspecified), while 6 percent is merely saying “no way” to Barack and John.
ACCORDING TO THIS most recent survey (which will be obsolete by Wednesday afternoon when Gallup will come out with yet another of their daily tracking polls), only the remaining 6 percent of the potential voter population is truly trying to figure out whether to vote for McCain or Obama.
That’s roughly one of every 16 people – the other 15 have made up their minds (and it’s only July).
So what should we think, aside from the fact that it is the Electoral College totals and not the popular vote that decides who wins the presidential election?
The trick will be to see if the 7 percent who say they are disgusted with both candidates truly are. Will their distrust of both McCain and Obama remain hard-line enough that they seriously decide to vote for a third-party candidate? If so, Ralph Nader awaits them with open arms.
OF COURSE, THERE’S the possibility that Ralph’s hard-line stubbornness on certain consumer issues will turn these people off (there’s a good chance that these people who hate both Obama and McCain are ideologues determined to vote for no one if they can’t find someone who matches their views on every single issue).
It’s going to depend on just how seriously the ideologues are determined to vote for somebody. Nader could easily become the name that fills in for the often-fantasized option of “None of the Above.” The number of people who actually believe Nader’s hard-line, uncompromising stridency is fit for the White House is seriously small.
But what happens if most of these people decide to just boycott the polling places on Election Day? They cease to matter (that’s the reality of our electoral system, the only people who count are the ones who bother to take the time to cast a ballot).
Then it would become the remaining “6 percent” who will decide the election – the ones who truly are not sure what to think, and who likely will not make up their minds until some time in early November – quite possibly at the moment they walk into the voter booth and are confronted with the choice.
IN THE CASE of these people, it may well turn out to be some sort of unpredictable gaffe on the part of one of the candidates that causes them to vote for the other guy.
And if McCain were to get the bulk of that “6 percent” of the undecideds, then he gets a lead over Obama of just under 50 percent that would be enough for victory, IF Nader’s 7 percent of supporters/Election Day no-shows comes in states with significant Electoral College members and costs Obama electors.
I can already hear the nonsense rhetoric – Nader will be the guy who cost both Al Gore and Barack Obama the presidency. I call it nonsense because I think Nader’s influence in the 2000 presidential election is seriously overrated by Bush bashers. I’m not convinced Nader has enough influence to truly take an election from anybody.
So in the end, that “7 percent” could turn out to be the figure representing the share of people who are just cantankerous enough that they have to be against everybody.
I’M WILLING TO guess that most of them just won’t bother to vote, and Nader could easily get 1 percent of the overall electorate – scattered about various urban states in such a manner that he does not influence the Electoral College vote at all.
Of course, there’s also one other aspect to consider when taking any poll into consideration – it is a very small sample of the population, no matter how professionally it is done.
This particular poll is based off the results of 2,645 registered voters who happened to be at home and answer the telephone. When you think about it, just over 2,600 people representing the views of all of the United States, no matter how scientifically they were chosen, is puny.
I have seen minor league baseball games draw larger crowds than that.
EDITOR’S NOTES: One percent of potential voters say they are voting for a third-party candidate (http://www.gallup.com/poll/109006/Gallup-Daily-Presidential-Contest-Remains-Close.aspx), while 6 percent more say they won’t vote for either Barack Obama or John McCain. They are Ralph Nader’s best chance of actually getting electoral support.
Consider this amongst yourselves – were both Obama and McCain correct in their views (http://www.usnews.com/articles/opinion/2008/07/22/public-opinion-barack-obamas-war-opposition-versus-john-mccains-surge-support--which-is-more-important.html) on the war in Iraq?
What a surprise! The American electorate believes that their preferred candidate will run an issues-oriented campaign, while the opponent will use campaign tactics bordering (http://www.gallup.com/poll/108919/Unfair-Campaigning-Depends-Whom-Ask.aspx) on nasty. Or so concluded the people with Gallup in a survey compiled and released last week, during the time this weblog was inactive.