The Year of Voting Dangerously


I am interested in hearing from progressive-minded in swing states voters who are seriously thinking about voting for Nader. I ran a survey somewhat like the one below in April while researching my book, Ralph’s Revolt: The Case for Joining Nader’s Rebellion. Now, as the election draws near, I want to hear more. I plan to post some answers on the web-but will keep the respondents anonymous. This is not a scientific survey-the goal is to understand and publicize the thinking of swing state Nader voters.

(In the last survey, many respondents interpreted my hostile questions as trying to convince people not to vote Nader. But I was just trying to bring out the best arguments they might have, and I got a treasure trove of great thinking. Just to clarify my own commitments this time, I plan to vote Nader in order to encourage the founding of a third party, and to put pressure on Kerry if he wins by keeping his mandate as small as possible. Even though I want Bush out, because I am a resident of a tiny swing state-just one electoral vote at stake in my district in Maine-I believe there is little risk to voting Nader for someone in my position. Even if Kerry loses the single electoral vote I am influencing, and even if he loses that one because too many of us vote Nader, it is highly unlikely that voters backing Nader in Maine will be the deciding factor in the national election’s outcome. In contrast, other swing states have more electoral votes at stake, giving those voters a potentially greater say in the result. But what I would do in a larger swing state isn’t relevant-I don’t live in one. That’s why I’m turning to you for answers.)

I will be sorting through responses that arrive prior to October 20 and quoting from some of them. I may or may not have time to do so with later responses. Though I can’t always respond, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts even after the 20th.


1. Do you live in a swing state? Which one?

2. Are you still planning to vote Nader? Why?

3. If Nader wasn’t running, would you vote for Kerry? Explain.

4. Assuming you plan to vote Nader, do you think your vote could help tip the election to Bush by taking a vote from Kerry?

5. Are you aware of the costs of another Bush presidency? If yes, what accounts for your determination to vote Nader?

6. Various organizations opposed to Nader’s run have been running ads and broadcasting petitions to convince people such as yourself to vote for Kerry. What impact, if any, have these efforts had on your thinking?

7. Is there something those groups could tell you that would sway your vote?

8. How have the efforts to keep Nader off the ballot affected your decision?

9. Some of Nader’s allies from 2000 have said his candidacy this year is a strategic mistake. Do you agree? Explain.

10. Let’s suppose that you and others vote Nader in a swing state, Kerry loses that state which he would have won if the Nader voters had backed him and that loss costs Kerry the election. What is your thinking about this outcome?

11. Any other relevant thoughts?

Please copy these questions with your answers and email me at gbates@commoncouragepress.com.

Thanks for your time.

GREG BATES is the founding publisher at Common Courage Press and author of Ralph’s Revolt: The Case For Joining Nader’s Rebellion.