Archive for February, 2004

Who does Ralph think he’s fooling?

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

There are conservatives who are furious with Bush over the deficit, over corporate subsidies, over corporate pornography directed toward children, over the Patriot Act, over many other issues. And they may be looking for an Independent candidacy. There are liberal Republicans who see their party taken away from them. They may be looking for an Independent candidacy. There are a hundred million non- voters that no one has figured out how to bring back into the electoral system, which I want to try to do.

Right. Conservative Republicans are going to be voting in droves for Ralph Nader. Libertarian Conservatives are clamouring to vote for Ralph Nader. Pat Buchannan-esque anti-free traders are ready in line to vote for Ralph Nader.

According to the exit polls conducted by Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, fully 25% of his votes came from Republicans, 38% from Democrats, and the remainder from people who would not have voted. No other American leader can be credited with such broad appeal across the divides of our polarized nation.

Okay. Let’s test out the Nader effect in the state of Florida based upon this somewhat specious poll. (Other polls exist that come to a less incredulous conclusion.)

As is:

Bush 2,912,790 ………… 48.85% …… 25
Gore 2,912,253 ………… 48.84% ……. 0
Nader 97,488 ………….. 1.63% …… 0

Bush 2,937,162 …………. 0
Gore 2,949,298 …………. 25

Hm. Gore wins in Nader’s “Republicans voted for me too” calculations. Imagine that.

Actually, this is counter-intuitive, but I hold the theory that Nader helped Gore in the end. Forced Gore to define himself as somethinganything. Stare at the polls throughout 2000, and Gore was consistently behind from the summer of 1999 right up until the Democratic convention, when he unveiled his “People versus the Powerful” campaign line. Say what you want about the campaign, whether it was meaningful or not, but until that point in time, the campaign message of where he was going was non-existant.

I heard him here in Portland, Oregon. His stump speech clearly had the “Please don’t vote Nader” undertone with it — focus strongly on the environment. Nader forced his campaign-stylings to the left. The swing voter is largely non-existant these days, (and the current theory on swing voters is that they’re politically conflicted, and see good with both limited government and responsive government) so we have the current theory of “The Base is where it’s at.”

Also, Nader may well have brought in voters who wouldn’t have voted, and at the last minute decided that Gore, the lesser of two evils, was preferrable to Bush.

Anyway, I’m not entirely sold on my theory, but I do think it’s a reasonable and highly likely conclusion.

Breaking the 2-Party Monopoly

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

(Partly-understood, partly I’m thinking “He’s not going to accomplish anything here), Conniption fits abound with regards to Ralph Nader’s announcement that he is running for president.

Electorally, Ralph Nader’s 2000 run for president wasn’t the most successful of presidential runs. Nader claims that his 2004 campaign will attract disgruntled Conservatives — who he’s trying to fool I do not know. It will be interesting to split up a hypothetical scenario figuring he claims a Democratic pollster had his candidacy do in Florida in 2000: (20% of his voters would’ve gone to Bush; 34% to Gore; the rest wouldn’t have voted) — Figures I will calculate in a later post.

What follows is a list of United States presidential elections with a third party of any consequence campaigning. High-lighted are those where a third party candidate had better electoral success than Ralph Nader did in the year 2000. Italicized are the examples where a third party beat one of the major two parties: Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull-Moose and of course the Whig Party throwing in the towel allowing the Republican Party to emerge.

The criteria for “of any consequence” is malleable, but generally (though not always) the threshold is two percent. Electoral success does not always translate into lack of consequence, however. The Prohibition Party kicked around for a time, and had success in getting their platform enacted into law. The Green-back Party fused quickly fused with the Democratic Party. The Populist Party endorsed William Jennings Bryan for his runs at president.

The third party candidacies of (Trent Lott’s mentor) Strom Thurmond and Henry Wallace weighed heavily on Truman’s campaign strategy. He misjudged the Southern Democrats revolt in his electoral calculations, but ultimately overcame it. With regards to Wallace to his left, his campaign strategy was to send out Eleanore Roosevelt, among others, to belittle the party, and practice a little bit of red-baiting.

The fear of the Socialists, and even the fourth placed Communists, weighed heavily on Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency. (Anti-capitalist sentiment was, understandably, in the air. “The Revolution Must be Stopped.”)

Millard Freedman was the reluctant candidate of the No-Nothings in 1856.

The Nation article linked above tells the story of the third party dynamics of 1844.

Democrat Albert Gore: 48.38% … 271 50.37%
Republican George Bush: 47.87% … 266 49.44%
Green Ralph Nader: 02.73% … 000 00.00%

Democrat William Clinton: 49.24% 379 70.45%
Republican Robert Dole: 40.71% 159 29.55%
Reform Ross Perot: 08.40% 000 00.00%

Democrat William Clinton: 43.01% 370 68.77%
Republican George Bush: 37.45% 168 31.23%
Independant Ross Perot: 18.91% 000 00.00%

Republican Ronald Reagan: 50.75% 489 90.89%
Democrat James Carter: 41.01% 49 9.11%
Independant John Anderson: 6.61% 00 0.00%

Republican Richard Nixon 43.42% 301 55.95%
Democrat Hubert Humphrey 42.72% 191 35.50%
American Independant George Wallace 13.53% 046 08.55%

Democrat Harry Truman 49.55% 303 57.06%
Republican Thomas Dewey 45.07% 189 35.59%
States Rights Strom Thurmond 02.41% 039 07.34%
Progressive Henry Wallace 02.37% 000 00.00%

Democrat Franklin Roosevelt 57.41% 472 88.89%
Republican Herbert Hoover 39.65% 059 11.11%
Socialist Norman Thomas 02.23% 000 00.00%

Republican Calvin Coolidge 54.04% 382 71.94%
Democrat John Davis 28.82% 136 25.61%
Progressive Robert LaFollete 16.60% 013 02.45%

Republican Warren Harding 60.32% 404 76.08%
Democrat James Cox 34.15% 127 23.92%
Socialist Eugene Debs 03.41% 000 00.00%

Democrat Woodrow Wilson 49.24% 277 52.17%
Republican Charles Hughes 46.12% 254 47.83%
Socialist Allen Benson 03.19% 000 00.00%

Democrat Woodrow Wilson 41.84% 435 81.92%
Progressive Theodore Roosevelt 27.40% 088 16.57%
Republican William Taft 23.17% 008 01.51%
Socialist Eugene Debs 05.99% 000 00.00%

Republican William Taft 51.57% 321 66.46%
Democrat William Bryan 43.04% 162 33.54%
Socialist Eugene Debs 02.83% 000 00.00%

Republican Theodore Roosevelt 56.42% 336 70.59%
Democrat Alton Parker 56.42% 336 70.59%
Socialist Eugene Debs 02.98% 000 00.00%

Democrat Grover Cleveland 46.02% 277 62.39%
Republican William Reid 43.01% 145 32.66%
Populist James Field 08.51% 022 04.95%
Prohibition John Bidwall 02.24% 000 00.00%

Republican Benjamin Harrison 47.82% 233 58.1%
Democrat Grover Cleveland 48.62% 168 41.9%
Prohibition John Brooks 2.19% 000 00.0%
Union Labor Alson Streeter 1.29% 000 00.0%

Democrat Grover Cleveland 48.50% 219 54.6%
Republican James Blaine 48.25% 182 45.4%
Greenback Benjamin Butler 01.74% 000 00.0%
Pohibition John St. John 01.47% 000 00.0%

Republican James Garfield 48.27% 214 58.0%
Democrat William Hancock 48.25% 155 42.0%
Greenback James Weever 03.32% 000 00.0%

1860 (a unique case to say the least, so nothing highlighted.)
Republican Abraham Lincoln 39.82% 180 59.4%
Southern Democrat John Breckenridge 18.10% 072 23.8%
Constitution Unionist John Bell 12.62% 039 12.9%
Democrat Stephen Douglas 29.46% 012 04.0%

Democrat James Buchannan 45.28% 174 58.8%
Republican John Fremont 33.11% 114 38.5%
No-Nothings Millard Freedman 21.53% 008 02.7%

Democrat Franklin Pierce 50.84% 254 85.8%
Whig Winfield Scott 43.87% 042 14.2%
Free Soil John Hale 04.91% 000 00.0%

Whig Zachary Taylor 47.28% 163 56.2%
Democrat Lewis Cass 42.49% 127 43.8%
Free Soil Martin Van Buren 10.12% 000 00.0%

Democrat James Polk 49.54% 170 61.8%
Whig Henry Clay 48.08% 105 38.2%
Liberty James Birney 02.30% 000 00.0%

Nat’l Democrat Andrew Jackson 54.23% 219 76.0%
Nat’l Republican Henry Clay 37.42% 049 17.0%
Ind. Democrat John Floyd 0.00% 011 03.8%
Anti-Masonic William Wirt 7.78% 007 02.4%

Lessons from Iran

Sunday, February 22nd, 2004

The current political battle over in Iran is a battle over the meaning of the last election. Everything boils down to voter turn-out. Because the powers that be barred various reformist candidates from running, the (stumbling) reform movement called for a boycott of the election.

So, the Conservatives get to declare victory if turnout was high. The Reformers get to declare victory if turnout is low.

I’m thinking that we can translate that over the United States. If fewer than 50% of eligible voters vote in the 2004 general presidential election, I get to declare victory, okay?

Who watches the watchers of the watchers of the watched?

Friday, February 20th, 2004

In looking around the blogosphere, I have to ponder the significance of the act of blogging about other blogs.

Googling around, I find that, yes indeed, The (ahem) Media Whores Online Watch Watch Watch Watch did indeed have bloggers discussing the content of the blog.:

UPDATE: Barney Gumble over at Media Whores Online Watch Watch Watch Watch questions Hannity’s Bestseller status. It is true the NYT lists come out quite far in advance of their actual publication dates, but we shall see…

In bemoaning the lack of British political blogs, one blogger mentioned the aforementioned blog with:
However, I think I may have the beginnings of an explanation for it, partly inspired by seeing this post from Harry Steele, where he observes that we in Britain are yet to experience the ‘metablogs’ – blogs that exist solely to comment (usually critically) on other blogs, a concept taken to the point of extremity by Media Whores Online Watch Watch Watch Watch.

(The story of the entire lifespan of “MWOWWWW” is found here. Not a sympathetic portrait.)

excerpts from Kerry’s book

Friday, February 20th, 2004

John Kerry

Page 51 , A Call to Service: My Vision for A Better America:

I hope by the time you read this book that the UN has been usefully employed as a partner in the reconstruction of Iraq and that Jacque Chirac has ceased his foolish rebellion against the very idea of the Atlantic Alliance. America, which has always shown magnanimity in victory, should in turn meet repentant Europeans halfway, not ratchet up the badgering unilateralism that fed European fears in the first place.

Page 43

As a veteran of both the Vietnam War and the Vietnam protest movement, I say to both conservative and liberal misinterpretations of that war that it’s time to get over it and recognize it as an exception, not as a ruling example, of the U.S. military engagements of the twentieth century. If those of us who carried the physical and emotional burdens of that conflict can regain perspective and move on, so can those whose involvement was vicarious or who knew nothing of the war other than ideology and legend.

Actually, what I want to know is: Did Mark Hand stop reading after 50 pages?

Ralph is Running

Friday, February 20th, 2004

Evidentally, all signs point to a Ralph Nader Meet the Press announcement that he is indeed going to seek the presidency of the United States.

Indeed, he was written a rather hilarious response to the Nation’s editorial urging him not to run: Found Here (My response was found here.

The funniest thing here is this: Ralph Nader recieved 2.7% of the vote in 2000. A paltry sum by any reasonable estimation.

In the state of Florida, he received 1.63% of the vote. (The other two states that often come up as states that Gore would’ve won the election if he had won, New Hampshire and Tennessee, one can not credibly say that Nader cost Gore.) I hear this statistic bounded about that if one percent of Nader’s Florida voters had voted for Gore, that Gore would’ve won the election. This misunderstands the new calculus for the recount battle, and how the two sides would’ve played the game… Bush still has Katherine Harris sitting there.

A question: How much more support above this one percent of Nader’s Florida voters would’ve been able to stomach voting for Gore? I hazard to guess — not a whole lot, really.

So, the Democrats are nervous about one percent of the vote, are they? Well… to each their own.

lousy soundbite

Thursday, February 19th, 2004

“I believe we need a president who doesn’t just say ‘start your engines,’ but says ‘we’re here to start the engines of the economy by putting America back to work” — John Kerry

Bad soundbite. Doesn’t have any zip to it. Granted, it goes into the generic theme that is being crafted for the 2004 campaign — the president does a photo-shoot; refer to the limitations that the photo-shoot has and destroy the myth (“Mission Accomplished?”, and “Hey, NASCAR Dads… are you better off than you were 4 years ago?”

But… predictable and lingering is this soundbite.

An End to Evil

Thursday, February 19th, 2004

Ah, Pat Buchannan. Paleo-Conservative of the first order, odious in many respects. But his paleo-conservatism makes him isolationist by nature, thus he can write this angry review of the Richard Perle / David Frum book An End to Evil, a bit of

Lewis Lapham also wrote a biting review in the latest issue of Harpers Magazine. As is his usual style, he took some space just to leave excerpts to stand for themselves. My favourite line:

“A free society is not an un-policed society. A free society is a self-policed society.”

I would like to see that in context to make sure that that line means what I think it means.

Anyway, I confess that I haven’t read the book. I’ve read a few reviews, and I have heard David Frum and Richard Perle do the interview circuit, most notably on “Fresh Air”, so I am aware of their defense from the critics.

Nonetheless, I take the basic theme of the book to be this:

David Frum and Richard Perle essentially recommend that we charge ahead and swing a big stick around wildly. By doing so, we will surely hit our targets and indeed hit some targets that we were not aware that we were aiming for. We will also make some targets step aside instead of standing in our way. If we get disoriented when swinging the stick around, and fumble forward with too much momentum because we misjudged the man who stepped aside at the last moment, and — say– accidentally stub our toe and fall down, we ought to get up and swing the stick around with more urgency and more pronounced determination… never mind that we’re a little dizzy at that point, and getting dizzier all the time.