September 06, 2016

"The Nader Moment" for Washington State Environmentalists

In 2000, George W. Bush became President of the United States because of the candidacy of Ralph Nader, who pulled enough votes from Gore so that he barely lost Florida (by about 600 votes) and thus the election.

Many of those who supported Ralph Nader were left-leaning Democrats who felt Gore was too centrist for their tastes.  They knew the risk of supporting Nader, but didn't care--they stuck to their principles, resulting in a President with views opposite to their basic values.  During the next few years, the U.S. became engaged in a pointless and unnecessary war, basic liberties were limited, and conservative supreme court justices were appointed, to name only a few effects of the Bush presidency.  For these Democrats, ideology was more important than pragmatics, with the end product being a disaster for the nation.

And it is about to happen again.  Today, many left-leaning Washington State Democrats and their allies are determined to have their own "Nader Moment", rejecting the good for the perfect and undermining a major advance in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the State.

What am I talking about?  

The vote on Washington State initiative I-732, which would bring a revenue-neutral carbon tax to Washington State-- an approach that would use the free market to reduce carbon emissions in our state while reducing the sales tax by 1%, thus making the state tax system less regressive.  And it even provides a tax rebate for low-income working families to neutralize the impacts of the carbon tax.

As noted on the Yes-on-I732 website, I-732 is bipartisan effort, with support from both sides of the aisle.  If passed, it would represent an example to the nation of how the entire political spectrum can work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  A similar approach has worked well in British Columbia:  greatly reducing carbon usage with no negative impacts on the economy. And it makes our tax system less regressive.  Enlightened, pragmatic policy.

But now the problem.   A group of  self-described environmental groups are not supporting I-732 because they oppose revenue neutrality, whereby all taxes are returned to taxpayer.  They are happy enough with a tax on carbon emissions, but they want WA State government to control the revenue, using it for environmental programs and to promote "climate justice".   They claim that Washington State minorities and low-income folks are preferentially penalized by global warming, an assumption that has little basis in truth.   Thus, they want divert funds to "community-directed investment"...whatever that means.

So environmental groups like the Sierra Club, the Washington Environmental Council, and Seattle's Climate Solutions are not supporting I-732.  A variety of activist  and "progressive" groups like the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy are opposing it for the same reasons.  So are some labor unions.  They demand that carbon tax revenue be used for larger government and more "social justice" programs, and they are willing to kill I-732 if it doesn't meet their social action requirements.  The rapid rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere does not appear to be their priority.

Just as disturbing, Governor Inslee, whose administration claims that addressing global warming is a priority, is sitting on the sidelines, providing no support for I-732. Most of his climate initiatives have not been successful, including his proposed fee on carbon emissions.

Governor Inslee has a real chance to lead by supporting I732 and do something important, but will he?

Opposition with no real plan

The left-leaning opponents of I-732 have no plan for moving forward with a carbon tax.  For years they have had to opportunity to do so, but have done nothing.   And even if they tried, a carbon tax that is not revenue neutral would be dead on arrival, since it would be opposed by most Republicans and even some moderate Democrats.

So these folks in the opposition are pushing for an approach that will never become law, while holding back support for an alternative (I-732) that both has a chance and which could provide a powerful tool for reducing greenhouse gas use in our State. They are willing to destroy the good for the perfect, because it does not mesh with their political vision.  Thus, they are part of the problem and not the solution.

It is ironic that some of the most most liberal folks in the State are allies with some of the most conservative, such as the Association of Washington Businesses (who is sponsoring the No on I732 campaign).  Or the more conservative members of the Republican party who still reject the overwhelming scientific evidence of a growing threat.   They are even aligned with a very prominent Presidential candidate, who explicitly opposes carbon taxes and who believe global warming is a hoax (see below).   As they say, politics makes strange bed fellows.

Opposes a carbon tax

There is still time

There is still time for the "progressives" and social justice activists to rethink their positions and to avoid their "Nader Moment."  Sill time for sober and logical consideration of what is possible and good.  Still time to support I-732 and encourage their members to do the same.  Still time for Governor Inslee and his allies to show that Washington State can lead the nation regarding an unfolding environmental crisis in a bipartisan and pragmatic way.  Still time to understand that the key issue is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and not the size of government.  Extremists on both the left and right need to stop making this issue a political tool and deal with a growing crisis for our planet.
Most people in our State understand the threat of global warming from greenhouse gas increases.  But many feel powerless, frustrated, and unhappy about the inability of our political leadership and environmental groups to work together in an effective and pragmatic way.  I-732 represents a realistic, bipartisan, proven approach.  It would be a tragedy for all of us if it failed. And a double tragedy for environmental groups who would soon realize they helped kill an historical opportunity for effective action on climate change.
Announcement: Talk on Northwest Climate Surprises on September 28.

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  1. Thanks for the explanation as I had a hard time of understanding why some of these environmental groups were opposing this. Look forward to your talk.

  2. I really like this dynamic graphic about wind as placed onto the location of the data points.,44.36,523/loc=-121.162,47.783

  3. The "low income" tax relief is what? What income threshold for working families of 4?

    Deal with income inequality first! Those working poor, young and non governmental lower middle class are getting the short end of the stick already, no benefits, no retirement packages, no living wage.

    Impossible to support any tax on working folks just scraping by with such obscene income and bennifit inequality in this state.

    Why tax the poor in the first place???! Why?

    Like we got spare money laying around to wait for some tax credit in April. (Someone will find a way to take that from us too.)

    Sorry but income inequality needs to be dealt with first.

    Besides why do the retired boomers get off so easy? They consumed the carbon. They should pay for what they consumed. Those that amassed wealth should pick up the tab 100%...

    Again, why stick it to the young?

    Baby boomers have a decades long party, consuming hydrocarbons, and now don't want to pay for what they consumed. LOL

    Vote for Jill she will fix the problem the right way!

  4. There is a school of thought - still prominent on the far left of the political spectrum - that maintains the best chance of advancing their agenda is by pushing the current state of affairs into an existential crisis. Nothing will really change, according to this view, until people actually experience the current [insert preferred label here] system taking them to the brink of ruin - or, perhaps, over the brink.

    If you encounter someone who takes this position, ask them to cite an example of how it has worked in the past for the betterment of mankind. I suggest bringing a good book; you'll be waiting a while for a coherent answer. Perhaps a history text might be useful, since you can entertain yourself with examples (they're far more numerous) of a "the worse, the better" philosophy going horribly awry. In fact, it plays a significant role in the social and political dislocations that turned the first half of the 20th century into one continuous bloodbath.

    I'll stop before Godwin's Law rears its ugly head, but really - I have serious doubts that anyone can present a cogent defense of the political thinking behind much of the opposition to this initiative, and especially one based on any sort of historical precedent. That makes it a position based more or less on faith - acceptable for religious enthusiasm, considerably less so for political activism.

  5. Organic farmer,
    I am afraid we can't wait until all income inequity is solved. The greenhouse gas problem is too serious. And young people are the ones that will be impacted the it is in their interest to get this done. The reduction in sales tax and the low-income tax rebate will help those with less income. Don't get me wrong...the growing income disparity is an extremely difficult and important problem. I understand that baby boomers have enjoyed the ride of low-cost fossil fuels. And so has the United States. But that is besides the point....we need to deal with the threat, with potential large impacts around the planet. Can you suggest a better approach?..cliff

  6. Cliff, I'm with you on 732. Not sure why issues get this confused. As one who was concerned about Nader, and saw the consequences, I find that an apt metaphor.

    On a different subject: I note that the remnants of Lester look posed to get caught in the northern steering currents. Any chance some of its moisture will show up in our weather?

  7. Hi Cliff,

    Will your Climate Surprise talk be recorded & available afterwards?



  8. I agree, although I see more similarities with Obamacare -- not a perfect solution, but a start that can be improved and added on.

    1. Still waiting for that to happen with Obamacare. Government is the least productive solution for about any problem

  9. Excellent reminder of the Nader effect. Or as it is often phrased, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good."

    It's interesting to speculate where we would be today as a country if Bush had lost that election. And without the votes siphoned off to Nader, Gore would absolutely have won. We know that with certainty. Few of the Nader votes would have gone to Bush.

    No way to know the rest with confidence, but I'm guessing that environmental and global warming issues would have advanced better under a Gore administration than Bush's two terms, and we wouldn't have spent trillions on wars that resulted in no benefit to anyone but the people who make weapons. Just a wild guess.

    The US is a long ways from electing a third-party candidate. Incremental progress is all we can hope for in such a large democracy, as long as we avoid the pitfall of allowing the bad to win, which could set us back a LONG ways. I understand the appeal of the purist choice.

    But from my view, anyone who doesn't use their vote to effectively stop AGW deniers like Trump are essentially enabling him. He will fill his cabinet with people who oppose any progress, treaties, etc.

    Jill (and Gary) will makes lots of inspirational speeches after they lose, all while Trump fills his cabinet with people who put industry ahead of environment. My guess is that Trump won't be listening to Jill when it comes to policy, or perhaps deliberately doing exactly the opposite of what she advocates.

    The Left will be cut completely out of the Administration for another 4 to 8 years. Better to fight from inside a Moderate administration than to be completely ignored by a hostile one.

  10. Excellent commentary, and apt use of quotes in referencing the "progressive" position on this one.

  11. To Will Shetterly... there are huge holes in the 2000 election analysis you reference. But as opposed to rehashing 2000, I would only ask you this today:

    If Jill were to withdraw from the election tomorrow, what portion of her supporters would switch their vote to Trump? And how many would suck it up and vote for Hillary?

    Based on my unscientific sampling of friends who support Jill, I don't see any of them suddenly becoming Trump supporters. My belief is that some of them wouldn't vote at all out of disgust, but the bulk would hold their nose and vote for Hillary with the (reasonable) expectation that she'll support at least some progressive issues. At the very least, her administration won't declare war on the Left and our issues.

    Trump and the Republicans likely would, by putting industry and corporations first.

    Sad to see poor I-732 getting squeezed in the middle of all this. Also that most people in state and local politics are ducking under the covers and not providing the critical support for state and local issues that they should.

  12. John McBride: "Not sure why issues get this confused."

    Because Yoram Bauman is not very diplomatic and did not work with other groups to make sure the proposal wouldn't be seen as (or actually be) adverse to the interests of low income people, let alone key members of the environmental community.

    Also, the very first phrase of initiative 732 is: The intent of this act is to encourage sustainable economic growth.... I cannot imagine a more oxymoronic statement about natural resource management. It's like asking Republicans to help solve our problems. Oh, wait...

  13. A more pressing issue is for Donald Trump to be defeated by Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump thinks global warming is a "hoax" after all. A Trump presidency would be a "disaster" according to Bernie Sanders.

  14. Thought you were going to talk about Trump, Cliff. What we need is Instant Runoff voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Votes for candidates that have been eliminated are given to the voter's next choice. That way, one can vote for third-party candidates without sacrificing votes for the "second best". This would eliminate the Nader Effect, but would require a constitutional amendment to establish, which is tough to do these days.

  15. I-732's proposal to use carbon tax revenues to fund the state's Working Families Tax Credit (unfunded since 2008) is a very significant benefit to hundreds of thousands of low-income families of all races and ethnicities. Governor Inslee attempted to fund the program, and failed. This is a big progressive component of I-732 that should be shouted from the rooftops.

    For some context:

  16. Great blog. I'll be doing my part to tell people to vote yes on I-732, it would really be a travesty if it failed because environmental groups were so vocal in opposing it.

  17. Organic Farmer,

    Dr. Jill attacked The Hil
    And carried Donnie's water.
    Jill fell down and cost The Crown
    And Greens were scorned thereafter.

    As an organic farmer you HAVE to be aware of the changing climate in Washington. Grant, it makes growing tomatoes and even melons pretty easy west of Cascades whereas forty years ago it was very much a sometime thing. But the other effects -- most critically the burning of the Cascades forests and acidification of Puget Sound -- are much more far-reaching and just plain bad. Get off your high horse and be practical. I know the kind of people who infest the Green Party: wanna be Trotskyites like the fools in SDS when I was in school.

    And just to set one thing straight. In the forty years I worked, paid taxes and contributed to the economy, I made it a consistent point to take public transit to work, even when it took longer as it usually does.

  18. The common comment on the right is that, "I'll believe climate change is a crisis when the left behaves like it's a crisis." This shows that too many look at it as an opportunity to advance a political agenda, not a crisis that needs attention on its own merits.

  19. We have a carbon tax now. It's called the gas tax. Has is reduced GGE's? No. Quite the opposite. It has increased them, because the revenues from it go to building infrastructure that helps us to burn more gas.

    So one could argue, if you want to reduce GGE's in Washington from cars and trucks,the single biggest source of CO2 pollution in our state, we should end the gas tax.

    More generally, do not assume that because the government taxes something that it will wither. The GGE tax as formulated is a sin tax. Let's think about two other examples.

    Has the cigarette tax reduced smoking in Washington State? Yes. The gov't has chosen to set it at a level past the point where it would maximize revenue, and into the region where it will reduce consumption. But not by much. In fact, if you eliminated the tax on cigarettes, alcohol and the lotto, in our state, we would no longer have a regressive tax structure.

    So is is possible for the government to set a tax in such a way that it reduces consumption. But it must be willing to accept a *loss of revenue* to do this. Governments are not always willing to do this. They need to do stuff like keep the criminal justice system working, keep our schools working, etc. Important, admirable work.

    Before prohibition, the federal government was funded largely by a tax on alcohol (booze). At that time they showed no interest in reducing consumption. We Americans drank more then than at any time since. But shouldn't any tax reduce consumption of the good taxed? No, because the govenment can use some of the money to promote the revenue generating activity in other ways. For example, it can institute policy that keeps the price of grain low, so that there is plenty for brewing. It can give tax incentives to producers, often subtle ones. It can reduce regulations on consumption. There is a strong case that the pre-prohibition government did all those things.

    Or in the case of our current carbon tax, the gas tax, they can use the revenue to promote driving, by building bigger better roads. And, just like any business, if there is a new technology that threatens their revenue stream they may look unfavorably upon it and act accordingly. Is there evidence that this is happening with gas tax revenue? yes. State governments see hybrids and electric cars as a threat to revenue, so they are imposing taxes on them. And they are very clear about why they are doing it.

    So it is not a simple matter to go from a carbon tax, to reduce GGE's. It is possible that we will in fact end up increasing GGE's as a result of the tax. Careful thought needs to be given to this. I am not convinced that this is a good idea.

  20. "Deal with income inequality first!"

    There is always something else to fix first, isn't there? You're really saying "Do nothing until my pet project is done"

  21. Cliff! After looking at the latest SST Anomalies, it appears the "Blob" is back with a vengeance! Would love to hear your thoughts on that and whether you think it will stick around and make for a warmer than normal winter.

  22. "So one could argue, if you want to reduce GGE's in Washington from cars and trucks,the single biggest source of CO2 pollution in our state, we should end the gas tax."

    I hear what you are saying, but I'm not sure I agree. Businesses are always trading off cost versus profitability versus investment, etc. If you make carbon consumption more expensive, that will get included in financial analysis, and at some point those changes will drive different tradeoffs in the business world.

    Gas tax on cars behaves fundamentally differently. Fuel is a must for most people, at least those who don't live, work and play next to mass transit lines. Taxes make up about 63 cents of the cost of a gallon. If you suddenly dropped the price of fuel by 63 cents, you'd likely encourage some people to make personal choices in favor of less fuel efficient vehicles, especially if you stopped maintaining the roads. Perhaps 4WD pickups would suddenly make more sense than driving a Prius through massive potholes. Significant changes in taxation and services can drive behavior more effectively than steady state.

    The idea of slightly tilting the business analysis on carbon consumption costs, coupled with reducing the extremely regressive sales tax, without a net change in taxation or government spending, is likely to have positive results.

    Now, if it was up to me, I'd raise gasoline taxes by 20% per year, with those increases used to reduce sales tax and other regressive taxes, or to invest in a wider-ranging mass transit system. If we all had faith that the 20% per year compounded increase was going to continue ad infinitum, then that would drive some dramatic changes in government, business and personal investment decisions. In this case, it would be closer to the (effective) cigarette tax model that you reference.

  23. Gas taxes are fundamentally and irrevocably a tax on the poorest of our citizens. They are the people who are most likely to live farthest away from their places of work, due to the high housing costs associated with more densely populated areas. Additionally, there is rarely any available public transportation nearby that's a possible alternative. There is nothing remotely "progressive" about this tax - it's regressive, in the extreme. Now we have calls to raise the federal gas taxes once again, due to the deterioration of our interstates. Why has this occurred, despite many more cars on the roads and more people driving than ever? Because the hybrids don't need nearly as much gas, so those drivers don't come close to paying their "fair share." Funny how the law of unintended consequences rears it's head once again.

  24. You write, "A similar approach has worked well in British Columbia: greatly reducing carbon usage with no negative impacts on the economy." But has it, really?

    "Like other provinces, BC saw had a recession-induced drop in emissions between 2008 and 2009, and a more modest drop in emissions in 2010. Another consideration is that when BC’s carbon tax was introduced in July 2008, fuel prices were peaking at around $1.50 per litre (in Vancouver, where I live), but the carbon tax was only 2.3 cents per litre out of that total. These factors – economic downturn and high fuel prices – better explain the drop in GHG emissions than the carbon tax, although arguably the carbon tax piled on," writes Mark Lee in Behind the Numbers.

    He continues, "If you take 2007 or 2008 as your base year, then you can construct a story that BC’s emissions have fallen, but the reality is that since 2010, BC’s GHG emissions have increased every year; as of 2013 they are up 4.3 per cent above 2010 levels. More than two-thirds of this increase is attributable to the growth of BC’s natural gas industry (up 1.8 million tonnes). BC also recently conceded it will not be able to meet its 2020 GHG target."

    Graph here:

  25. Eric,
    You have not considered the entire package. Reducing sales tax preferentially helps poorer folks. And the working family rebate does the same. Considering the ENTIRE package you will see that it DOES NOT penalize low income folks...cliff

  26. Cliff,

    The amount of blame you can assign to Ralph Nader for Gore loosing the election to Bush in 2000 is about one percent. Gore couldn't even win his home state or Arkansas. Also, the Supreme Court halted the counting and handed the election to Bush.

    Worrying about climate change is a waste of time. We've already passed the thresh hold of any kind of meaningful action. You might as well just enjoy yourself and not worry about it. The only way the problem will be solved is by a massive population decrease. Most people don't care and are just interested in their materialistic lifestyles. Nature will solve this problem.


  27. To be clear about what you're advocating, "nature solving this problem" via a "massive population decrease" means billions of people dying. But I guess trying to mitigate that outcome is less valuable than getting to say "I told you so" and feeling superior for not being "materialistic." Accelerationism and primitivism at their worst.

  28. It is strange to me that everyone seems to accept as a given the question of efficacy. That is, by having a carbon tax, any tax, you will in some measure reduce consumption. It seems so simple. Unless you consider that the carbon tax we have now (which by all accounts dwarfs the tax we are discussing) clearly increases the amount of carbon we burn. So why are you so easily convinced that this tax will have the intended effect?

    The tax will not reduce carbon pollution if the revenue is used to promote carbon consumption. Is there any indication that this will happen? Yes. As a matter of course. If all the money we take for the sin of carbon consumption is given to people use use it to consume more carbon, then it will fail in its intended purpose. This will surely happen, because it is structured to go to low income people who will spend some of it on gas. Other parts of it they will spend on housing, and food. And the tax will not prevent the GHG emissions behind any of these products.

    Personally, I think this tax will not have its intended consequence.

    Do I have a better idea? Well, just off the cuff, sure. How about we take all the money from the gas tax and use it to decarbonize our economy. We would build 10GW of solar farms out in the dessert and ditto for wind. We could revise our nuclear plants. We could electrify personal transportation in the Puget Sound by doubling our electric train network, and building it in half or a quarter the time. And, near and dear to my own heart, we could build true bike super highways around the city, including electric elevators where needed to get people over major hills, or tunnel through them where needed.

    Just taxing something doesn't prevent it from happening. In some cases, it will actually increase it.

  29. The point of redistributing carbon tax revenues is to make carbon taxes less regressive. The idea is that poorer people will still be able to afford the same amount of gas and food that they do now (not more), since it will be more expensive but other changes will balance it out, while rich people who do a lot of discretionary carbon-burning will be able to afford less of it.

    Neither WA nor the USA has a carbon tax presently, so I have no idea why someone would claim that the carbon tax we have now "clearly" increases fossil-fuel burning, which is opposite to what has been observed in countries that do have a carbon tax (Sweden, Denmark, the UK...).

    A carbon tax probably isn't enough to reduce emissions to the levels we need to get them to but it's certainly a reasonable start.

  30. i would claim that the carbon tax we have now clearly increases fossil fuel consumption because, well, it clearly increases fossil fuel consumption. We use the revenue from our current, substantial carbon tax, that is, our gas tax, to build and maintain a network of roads, without which our cars would be pretty useless.

    Now not every tax that is meant to reduce the consumption of a good doesn't have the intended consequence. Take cigarette taxes. In this state they do in fact reduce smoking. But notice that in this case we don't use part of the revenue from the tax to advertise cigarette smoking to minors.

    If that sounds nuts, take a step back and remember that we do exactly that in the case of the lottery, another sin tax. Apparently we consider the sin of innumeracy, or if you prefer, sunny optimism, to be more reprehensible than smoking, and so we are more willing to inflict punishment on number-haulics than we are on smokers.

    The carbon tax, as proposed is a machine. Like any machine we intend to build, we hope that we understand how it will work. Predictions of future performance may not pan out in all cases.

    We're saying that industry will use less carbon. Presumably they will do this, not by picking up stakes and moving operations, but by being more efficient in their use of resources. Let's hope. As we are hoping, should we remind ourselves that many of the largest carbon emitters in the state use carbon as a building material, as much as a source of heat? I gather you don't make cement without adding some carbon. People have been making cement a long time. Do you suppose that they have given some thought to doing so efficiently? You might also know that one of the top ten carbon polluters in our state is REC Silicon in Moses Lake.

    Now our machine is going to take that revenue, and redistribute it to the needy. But what is the goal? to reduce the pernicious regressive tax structure in this state? I voted for the income tax. I would do so again. I advocate raising the B&O tax and using the money to fund k-12 and our underfunded state colleges (make community college free!) But if the goal is reducing carbon pollution, its hard to see how this has the intended consequence. if you are a liberal, and you read Paul Krugman, you will know that during an economic downturn, tax cuts should be given to the poorest because every dollar they get, they spend. So, as a way to generate economic activity in the state, this may work very well. But the goal is not generating economic activity. It is reducing carbon pollution. Unfortunately, these two things do not necessarily go hand in hand. What was the biggest GGE reduction program ever? The global recession of 2007, thank you W. Bush! We always knew you were an environmentalist.

    we have before us one of the two great economic conundrums of our time, how can we reduce carbon pollution, and not kill our economy? Because, while it is easy to imagine a world in which millions of SUV's get sent to the scrap heap of history where they belong, it is impossible to imagine a world in which we accept massive unemployment as a consequence of our attempts to reduce carbon pollution.

  31. The primary opposition from the left is not that income inequality must be solved first, but that, according to the Dept. of Revenue analysis, the initiative is not revenue neutral, but actually siphons off about $200 million annually from our already strained state budget, taking yet further revenue from basic and drastically underfunded needs such as education, social services, and infrastructure.

  32. Tom... the State numbers are not correct...and even if there were we are talking an issue at the rounding-off level that can easily be compensated for....cliff

  33. Though by no means a perfect climate change action policy, I-732 IS a potential start whereby: (1) the legislature is forced to pay more attention to WA emissions; (2) the public will become better educated on CO2/climate progress or lack thereof; (3) both the WA political left and right can agree on tax policy with their own self-preservation in mind in a rapidly warming world; (4) passing I-732 sets an electoral precedence for a possible wave of national climate state (by state) policy discourse and most importantly, (5) the environmental community can by example show our political leaders that climate action may involve (will require) ideological compromises NOW if we are ever going achieve our common climate action imperatives.

    In my opinion, I-732 should not be seen as the ultimate climate policy but a hopeful beginning for Washington State climate leadership.

    George Reynoldson

  34. I think you're correct in categorizing withdrawn support from Sierra Club et al as a "the perfect is the enemy of the good" issue.

    I don't believe the Nader analogy is appropriate, accurate, or illustrative. Gore's campaign had way bigger problems than a spoiler effect from Nader. The effect might have been relevant in New Hampshire, but it is almost entirely irrelevant in Florida.

    It is true that Gore lost Florida by fewer than 600 votes.

    It is true that over 97,000 Floridians voted for Nader.

    It is probably not true that Gore would have taken the lead if Nader votes were redistributed among Gore, Bush, and abstain. CNN's exit polls showed Bush leading 49-47 assuming a hypothetical Naderless race. Around half of Nader voters would have stayed home; less than a quarter would have transferred their vote to Gore.

    Approximately 308,000 Floridian Democrats voted for Bush. Gore lost more than 3 times as many voters directly to the Bush camp as he could have possibly lost to Nader. A more realistic estimate is closer to 12 times, given the exit poll data.

    To bring it back around, is it possible that there are in fact bigger problems with this initiative than the spoiler effect can account for? I hope not, but let's not overlook the possibility just because we've already decided who should take the blame.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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