Nader, Barr muscle onto the Nov. ballots
Fri Sep 19, 6:27 AM ET
Third-party presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Bob Barr will be on nearly all of the state ballots on Nov. 4, according to their campaigns and independent tallies, raising the threat they could be spoilers on Election Day and siphon key votes away from Barack Obama and John McCain.
Nader, the left-leaning independent, won more than 2.7 percent of the vote as the Green Party candidate in the 2000 election, when Republican George W. Bush barely squeaked by Democrat Al Gore. Many Democrats blame Nader for taking votes from Gore and tilting the election to Bush.
This campaign season, Nader and Barr together are drawing about 3.3 percent of the vote in recent polls – easily enough to swing the results in a tight race, as the contest is shaping up to be.
“If the race remains close, anything could tip the difference,” said non-partisan pollster Scott Rasmussen. He cautioned, however, that both Nader and Barr were slipping in recent surveys, and could decline even more by Election Day.
“People who are unhappy with a candidate say they will vote for a third party, but they get more dissatisfied with the possibility of helping the greater evil win as the election gets closer,” Rasmussen said.
Nader is on the ballot in 45 states and the District of Columbia, but he missed the ballots in Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma and voter-rich Texas, all of which are leaning towards McCain, according to recent surveys.
“Nader was prudent,” said Richard Winger, a ballot access expert who is advising the minor party candidates and who provided an authoritative list of the state ballots for November. “He knew what all the laws were and didn’t waste his money on the five that were too hard.”
“I don’t think anyone has gotten on more ballots more quickly from zero,” Nader claimed in an interview with Politico, saying that he did not begin his ballot drive until late May. His four-month drive faced serious hurdles, because unlike the 2000 campaign, Nader does not have the assistance of a political party this year, and his campaign is strapped for funds.
Cynthia McKinney, a former Democratic congresswoman from Georgia, is the Green Party’s candidate in November and is on the ballot in 32 states and the District of Columbia. Chuck Baldwin, the nominee of the Constitution Party, a right-leaning counterpart to the Greens, is on 37 state ballots, according to Winger’s tally.
Nader is on the ballot in two more states this year than in 2000, when he made the cut in 43 states, but his potential Electoral College tally is smaller this time because he did not qualify for the ballot in the mega-state of Texas. Instead, he added smaller states such as Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota to the places where he will run.
Bob Barr, the former Republican congressman from Georgia who is the Libertarian Party candidate, made the ballot in at least 44 states, according to Winger. Barr did not make the ballot in D.C. or West Virginia, and he is challenging Connecticut’s decision to drop him from the rolls after the state invalidated signatures on his candidate petitions and said that he did not reach the minimum.
Barr also has mounted court challenges to rulings leaving him off the ballots in Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts and Oklahoma.
In Louisiana, Barr asserts, the Secretary of State’s office was closed for a week because of Hurricane Gustav when the petition filing deadline elapsed. In Maine, Barr submitted some petitions a day late, but he claims that deadlines were never rigidly enforced in the past. In Oklahoma, Barr is asking a federal court to hold that the state’s ballot requirements, which are among the toughest in the country, are too onerous, citing as evidence that only the Republican and Democratic candidates qualified for the ballot in 2004 and this year.
On Monday Barr defeated a court challenge from a Republican Party official in Pennsylvania who argued that the Libertarian Party had improperly substituted Barr’s name for another candidate’s who had been submitted earlier. It was the only state where Republicans have challenged him.
Massachusetts blocked Barr from the ballot for a similar reason, and he is contesting that decision as well.
Democrats challenged Nader’s eligibility in 18 states in 2004 and knocked him off the ballot in several large states, including Pennsylvania, but they have not challenged him this year. With just 49 days until the election, officials in Nader’s and Barr’s campaigns said it was unlikely that they would get bumped off any more ballots.
The Democrats “are not doing it this year,” Nader said, referring to the campaign waged against him four years ago.
Nader told Politico that he thinks the extended primary season helped divert the Democrats’ attention from his candidacy. He also filed suit against the Democratic National Committee last year for its effort to keep him off ballots in 2004. That, Nader said, and the indictment of Democratic staffers in the Pennsylvania State house for allegedly using state resources to work on the party’s challenge to him may have discouraged Democrats from using similar tactics this time, he said.