Could the Nader nightmare be happening again to Democrats?
Ralph Nader's just-starting presidential campaign is bragging today about a poll released over the weekend that showed that the consumer activist and political gadfly would get 6 percent of the vote in a three-way race with Republican John McCain (45 percent) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (39 percent) and would get 5 percent in a contest with McCain (44 percent) and Democrat Barack Obama (39 percent).
Nader's support is enough to make a difference, and he takes more voters away from Democrats, according to Zogby International, which conducted the survey on March 13 and 14 (it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points).
"Nader's presence in the race can potentially turn a lulu of a race into an absolute tizzy," pollster John Zogby said in a statement. "The messages to Democrats are clear -- number one, Nader may win enough support to get into the general election debates. Number two, what could be at risk is support among several key constituencies that the Democratic Party candidate will need to win in November, notably younger voters, independents, and progressives."
Many Democrats still blame Nader for costing Al Gore the 2000 election against George W. Bush -- an accusation that Nader vociferously denies.
Nader said he is running again this year because Clinton and Obama don't offer a clean enough break from business-dominated politics.
"Five or six percent is our floor," his campaign said in an message today seeking donations. "We're movin' on up to challenge the corporate Democrats and corporate Republicans in the general election. On single payer [healthcare], war in the Middle East, union busting, nuclear power, solar energy and a host of other issues that matter to the American people, Nader/Gonzalez are on one side of the political fence, Clinton/Obama/McCain are on the other."