This AP report says it all:
The [CBS News-New York Times poll released Monday] found Bush with a slight lead overall, 46 percent to 43 percent – roughly the same difference as the poll’s margin of error. Two weeks ago in this poll, Kerry was at 47 percent and Bush was at 46 percent.
When independent Ralph Nader is added to the mix, Bush has a clear lead over Kerry, 46 percent to 38 percent, with Nader at 7 percent, according to the survey released Monday.
In other words, Ralph Nader is objectively pro-Republican.
OK, not really.
Seriously, that seven percent deserves a voice, and it’s a disgrace that the American winner-take-all electoral system (like so many others in the world) does not allow this to happen. But the lesson of history is that successful insurgent third parties in first-past-the-post systems operate from a strong geographical base where their numbers are concenstrated enough to displace one of the old parties. If Nader is serious about changing American politics, he should try to consolidate a third party in one or two states, eventually pushing for a governorship and some congressional seats. If he’s less patient and wants to change the direction of the Democrats within the current two-party system, he should contest Democratic Primaries. The Howard Dean phenomenon showed that it would have a realistic shot. Just running for President as a spoiler candidate will do nothing to change the system that Nader is right to rail against. In other words, it’s an act of hypocritical political vanity rather than a rational political tactic. Go home Ralph. Please.