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Ralph Nader claims he will help defeat George Bush by pulling votes of Bush supporters and mobilizing Democrats. This study of every available poll shows that Nader’s assertion is clearly untrue.

Ralph Nader asserts at essentially every campaign appearance that this time around, he’ll help defeat George Bush. It’s easy to see why he’s adopted this remarkable position: he has little choice. The fury at Bush among Nader’s natural constituency requires him to assume such a stand. After all, what progressive would support helping re-elect George Bush?

But this raises a vital question: is Nader’s claim true?

We answered this question by completing a comprehensive study of every poll that measures Bush/Kerry head-to-head and Bush/Kerry/Nader in a three-way race. Through May 14, there have been 37 such polls taken since Nader declared his 2004 candidacy. Using the authoritative, non-partisan website, plus all other polls found through a search at Google1 , the results are conclusive.

Of the 37 polls reviewed, 32 show Nader hurting Kerry, 4 show no effect, and 1 shows Nader hurting Bush (and that by a scant 1%).

The table at right, “How Much Nader Helps Bush,” shows all 37 polls, and for each how much Bush gains in his margin vs. Kerry when Nader is included. While the percentage swings to Bush are all single-digit, the consensus is overwhelming, directly discrediting Nader’s claims.

In addition to national polls, we found state and special-interest polls that similarly compared Bush and Kerry head-to-head and with Nader added to the mix. Here the results were even more striking. Among other things, these polls (the first six in the above table) show Nader flipping New Jersey and Pennsylvania from Kerry to Bush, and causing an 8% surge for Bush among the large Arab-American vote in four critical swing states. These results alone would almost certainly swing the election to Bush.

The implications of these findings could be enormous. The nation is very closely divided, and it is extremely likely that in some battleground states, these numbers would determine the outcome. When a few percent of voters in a few states will determine the next president, Nader’s independent candidacy could well tip the balance.

The “Poll Watch 04 Study Spreadsheet” (download Excel File, 31k) contains documentation, source URLs, and raw data for all polls in the study. The spreadsheet version also contains the source graphics for the table above.

Questions or comments on the Study should be directed to Media inquiries should be directed to

1 Google searches to 5/13/04, “News” tab, using the following three terms: “Nader” “Head-to-head” “Poll”

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