Nader Baiter: Ralph the Mouth
Gallup has released its latest poll, saying, "Nader candidacy hurts Kerry." We'd add: "Inconclusive polls generate alarmist copy."
The poll, on its face, appears to indicate that would-be Kerry voters turn to Nader if his name is included in the race. The whole "takes votes away from" locution, while exciting, implies that those votes are somehow rightfully Kerry's, like he bought and paid for them. Everyone knows it's Kerry who gets paid for votes, not the other way around.
But Nader only polls at 2 percent -- which is so negligible it's within the poll's margin of error (+/- 4). And, for what it's worth, third party and independent candidates almost always poll higher than their actual election result. (People walk into a polling booth and find themselves unable to actually pull the lever for their marginal candidate. . . or they accidentally vote for Buchanan.)
There's also the small matter of Nader being unlikely to get on the ballot in most states. And we don't know where this support is coming from. Are all the Nader people in, say, Vermont? If so, the whole state could go Nader and it wouldn't matter much. Maybe the Democrats don't realize this, but elections are not decided by popular vote.
However, what else would we talk about for the next eight months if we couldn't get worked up about Nader? He's the wacky neighbor added in midseason, the special guest star that will perform at the Peach Pit at the end of the sweeps week show, the long-lost cousin who will throw a wrench into the wedding plans. That's right, folks: It's only March, and the 2004 election has already jumped the shark.