Showing posts with label Ralph Nader. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ralph Nader. Show all posts

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Barr/Nader Effect Revisited

Earlier this week, we looked at a prediction of how well both Bob Barr and Ralph Nader would do in November based on the Libertarian/Nader vote in 2004 and the state of polling on them both on the state and national levels thus far in 2008. A simple model, but one we can enhance. FHQ commenter and Election-Projection proprietor, Allen, spoke about the 2000 election in response to that post (...posing an altogether different question, but certainly one to look at.). And that got me thinking: What would adding in the data from 2000 do to the regression? It would do a couple of things. First, it provides a more consistent measure -- across two elections -- of the libertarian vote. This is advantageous because it eliminates the possibility that the events unique to 2004 are driving the changes we see. However, the drawback to adding in that data in is that it likely inflates to some extent the vote share Nader would be predicted to receive in November. As I said earlier in the week, though, the goal right now -- especially with the limited amount of polling we have for both third party candidates during this cycle -- is to get an idea about the relative effect each will have across the 14 states that FHQ has as toss ups at the moment in our electoral college projections.

What happens is that we don't see any monumental shake up, but there are some subtle shifts.
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In looking back at the Libertarian scatterplot from the previous post, there's not much difference in the predicted vote share that Bob Barr would get in November here. [Though there is a bit more dispersion here the focus should be on how high or low the point is.] There are three main groupings of states: Alaska and Indiana in the upper right, a group nine states in the middle, and Florida, Michigan and New Hampshire at the bottom left. To reiterate a point from earlier, the three closest states on the most recent Electoral College Spectrum -- Nevada, Ohio and Virginia -- are close enough that two to three points won by Barr could make a difference. However, if those states are that close, what we see here is likely to have been an exaggeration come November. Swing states across the 2000 and 2004 data typically yielded smaller vote shares to third parties than the less competitive states. Voters are willing to vote in protest if the candidate from their party has already seemingly won or lost the state.

One more thing we can add to this is how Ron Paul did this year in the Republican primaries. These are voters -- his supporters -- who are organized and perhaps inclined to vote for the Libertarian candidate. Ultimately, what this is measuring is the intensity of Paul support across states. A variable controlling for caucus states has been included to deal with contests where Paul did better on the whole than in primary states.
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Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Pennsylvania all see modest jumps while the remaining states hold relatively steady when compared with the plot above. That's three caucus states (Montana held a caucus on the Republican side) and one primary state; two McCain toss ups and two Obama toss ups. Again, the same caveats as above apply in the case of a competitive state -- which all of these are. However, Nevada is in a bit of a gray area here. Yes, it did have a caucus, but Nevada was a state where the Paul forces were very well organized. They completely disrupted the state convention in the Silver state and left Nevada without a delegation to next week's convention until just hours ago -- when the state Republican Party named the delegation. In a state that is as close as Nevada, this matters. Whether Barr's numbers are inflated in the state is beside the point. If those Paul supporters turn out and if -- this is a big if -- the opt for Barr, then McCain may have issues turning the tide there.

That's the story on the Libertarian front, but what about the impact Nader is predicted to have later in the fall? As I said at the outset in explaining the inclusion of the 2000 data, Nader would be expected to gain as a result of the inclusion of an election where he outperformed the 2004 numbers we used before.
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This distribution is also largely similar to the original plot with just the 2004 vote data. Ohio is the only state that really makes a move. Even with that 2000 data, Nader's predicted vote share for the upcoming election is still modest, only just more than 2 points at the most.

In the end though, the message is largely the same as what we saw earlier in the week among these toss up states with regard to the Barr/Nader effect. There is the potential for influence, but the main question is whether close states follow form, not giving third party candidates as large a share of the vote as in other states.

Somewhat tangentially, there's another issue I'd like to raise in this context. Earlier this week when FiveThirtyEight ran the latest CNN state polls, they used the version with the two party vote question as opposed to the four way race data. That has since been changed, but it started something of a discussion over there, and that is a discussion that is relevant here as well. It has implications for our electoral college projections. As I've discussed in this post and in others on the subject, it is likely that the third party percentages in polls are inflated in relation to where vote choices will ultimately be. That being said, is it beneficial to proceed with the four way polls or to go for the two way race version? In one version the third party aspect is supressed and that has an impact on the accuracy of that poll. But the accuracy of the four way polls are questionable as well since those numbers may be skewed here during the late summer weeks. What are people's thoughts on this? I have, to this point, included that four way race data when available.

Recent Posts:
The Links (8/30/08): Sarah Palin/GOP Convention Edition

More Thoughts on Penalties to Prevent Frontloading

If Taking Away Delegates Won't Stop Frontloading, What Will?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An August Look at the Barr/Nader Effect in 2008

When Zogby released their interactive poll results for the ten states they label battlegrounds over the weekend I considered once again looking at where Bob Barr was doing well. After the 34 state polling release in early July, we saw that Barr was faring quite well -- perhaps too well -- in some states that would make John McCain's job that much more difficult. Instead of doing that again, though, I thought I'd see what kind of data I could gather that would help us gain a better idea of how both Barr and Nader would potentially affect the upcoming general election.

With that in mind, I brought together a few different elements:
1) State polls charting a three or four way race.

2) National polls with either a three or four candidates included.

3) The share of the 2004 general election vote that both Nader and the Libertarian Party nominee, Michael Badnarik, received.

While there is a limited amount of data for the current cycle at both the national and state levels, the picture of a multiple candidate race can be augmented by the 2004 data. That provides a better sense of who does well and where. Since late May when Barr was nominated to represent the Libertarian Party, there have been 30 polls in 15 different states that include Barr and/or Nader in them. And during that same period there have been 18 national polls with either three or four candidates included. Again, this is a limited amount of information, but if we combine that data in a regression with the 2004 election results for Nader and the Libertarian Party, we get much closer to being able to predict if not how well both will do in November, then at least an idea of which states fall where in the pecking order.

Let's look at each separately.

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After the regression, we can plot the predicted vote share for, in this instance, Bob Barr against the vote share the Libertarian Party received in the 2004 presidential election. For the sake of clarity, I've only included the points for the 14 toss up states in our most recent electoral college projection, but rest assured the model includes all fifty states. On the lower left are toss up states where Barr does not take up too much of the the vote share on the right side of the ideological spectrum. That's good news for McCain in states like New Hampshire and Florida because the conventional wisdom holds that a Libertarian nominee would pull more from the Republican than Democratic nominee.

On the other side of the graphic, though, there are a couple of states where there may be cause for concern for the McCain camp. Both Alaska and Indiana give over three and a quarter points to Barr. That may not sound like much, but when two regularly solid Republican states require some amount of defense, the Republican nominee would be better served if he didn't have to fend off attacks on two fronts. And tucked away there in the middle of the pack are our three closest states, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. As tight as each of these are no amount of support for Barr would be welcomed by the Arizona senator, and two or more points may be enough to swing any of the three toward Obama and the Democrats.

The situation is a bit different in the Nader context.

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For starters, the same group who supported Nader in 2004 seem to be behind him again in 2008. Not the same exact people, but at least at this state a similar number of people. That can be contrasted with the Libertarian example above. The party of smaller and less interventionist government appears to have a much firmer footing in 2008 than it did just four years ago. Some or all of that may have to do with disaffected Ron Paul supporters who will hold their own gathering simultaneous to the GOP convention next week. It is a group that is certainly more energized during this cycle. But back to Nader. There is such a small range of vote share values across these toss up states. Nader is close to getting nearly two percent from each of these fourteen states (and for that matter all states since this is the same range in which the lean and strong states would fall as well.). And then there is the question that has been asked since 2000: Who are these Nader voters? Are they people who are only voting for Nader and thus not taking votes away from Barack Obama? Or does Nader represent a refuge for Democrats who won't pull the lever for the Illinois senator anyway? The former seems more plausible than the latter. Nader's share of the vote shrunk from 2000 to 2004 as Democrats, burned by the 2000 experience took a more pragmatic approach into the voting booth with them in 2004. Nader didn't really hurt Kerry; he wasn't even on the ballot in Ohio. And 2008, at least at this early juncture appears to be shaping up similarly to 4 years ago rather than 8 years ago.

I shouldn't short the Nader graphic, though. It is interesting that Indiana is among the strongest states predicted for Barr and is on the opposite end in the Nader example. If Nader were to pull votes away from Obama, the Hoosier state is a place where the Illinois senator would get the best of both worlds: a minimal Nader effect, but a comparatively large Barr effect.

Now, both accounts above come with some caveats. First, polls this time of year, both national and state, tend to overstate the position of third party candidates in the race. As we get closer to November, we'll start to see some movement toward one or the other of the two major party candidates. Diminished or not though, we do get from this a sense of which states are most likely to be affected by these third party candidacies. We can begin, for example, to look on this as a companion to the electoral college spectrum.

Another issue is that this model is far from inclusive. We are dealing with a limited number of variables here, so we aren't dealing with the full world of factors. [Misspecification alert!] However, this does get us moving in the proper direction at least; especially in that it bring more information to the table than simply the minimal amount of three and four way polling that is available.

Recent Posts:
The Pre-Convention Swoon Revisited

The Electoral Map (8/24/08)

Swoon? What Swoon? A Look at the Changes During Pre-Convention August

Monday, February 25, 2008

And on the Seventh Day, the Blogger Rested

Fine, a slowdown in the campaign, at least in terms of contests, equals a slowdown in blog output. Well, it's either that or fatigue. To quote Grandpa Simpson (see below), "a little from column A, a little from column B." Regardless, there has been some action worth noting on the trail and beyond over the last couple of days.

McCain continues to battle the FEC over the issue of the loan he took out last fall to keep his campaign afloat. The kicker is that now the DNC is involved; writing letters to the FEC calling for action. Good luck to the DNC on that one. Aren't Senate Democrats holding up those FEC commissioners' confirmations in a standoff with the White House? The "all bark and no bite" FEC is even more toothless now that it is stuck in limbo, biding its time until a full slate of commissioners can actually do the work of upholding the very law John McCain helped to create. Funny business, this politics.

In other McCain news, he's old, but not any older than Bob Dole would have been had the former Senate majority leader won in 1996. [Of course McCain is trying to avoid bottoming out financially during the summer months like Dole did. Repeating the summer of 2007 would be bad enough for the presumptive Republican nominee.] The age issue is working its way into the VP discussions surrounding McCain though. Regional balance has been a longstanding consideration in the running mate calculus, but age balance is an altogether different factor. Dole's choice of Kemp in 1996 is an obvious example and Bush's decision to go with Quayle in 1988 is similar in some ways. One could potentially argue that Eisenhower choosing a younger Richard Nixon fits this category as well.

The reverse scenario, where a relatively young candidate choses someone with more experience, has also popped up historically. Kennedy tapping Johnson in 1960 comes to mind. Age though wasn't the main consideration there. The Austin to Boston axis, usually a balance among the Democratic leadership in Congress during the period, was at play with this tandem as well. The two also finished one-two in the primaries (non-binding) and in the convention brokering that year. So age may not have been the top concern in 1960. George W. Bush selecting Dick Cheney could also fit into this category. A failed run for Congress and a long period outside of the public sector followed by six years as Texas governor, left the younger Bush vulnerable to the inexperience label. Cheney's time in Congress as well as his stints in the Ford and (first)Bush administrations helped Bush shed that label. And of course, if Obama is to become the Democratic nominee then age may again be a factor.

Speaking of VP speculation, here's the latest from The Fix. And here's the view from a political science perspective.

On the Democratic side, the race is still on and getting somewhat petty/nasty in the lead up to the Ohio-Rhode Island-Texas-Vermont round of contests on March 4. The Clinton folks are fighting Obama's momentum and the perception that it's over (Of course, that's the media killing Clinton and lauding Obama or so goes the charge.). Tightening poll numbers in the largest of those states (Texas and Ohio) are not helping that effort. The head-to-head match ups against McCain aren't either (Clinton and Obama). The Clinton anger has turned to sarcasm has turned to negative photos of Obama in a whirling dervish of ploys for votes in the two March 4 prizes (Sorry Rhode Island and Vermont. Bigger is better. Just ask North Dakota how Super Tuesday went with California hogging the late night spotlight.). All this before tomorrow night's debate in Cleveland. That should make for an interesting last tussle before the contests next week.

Meanwhile, Ralph Nader has thrown his hat in the presidential ring once more
. His appearance on the Meet the Press was an interesting one. He shrugged off worries that he would siphon off votes from the Democrats in November countering the 2000 election argument by citing research by Solon Simmons (see citation below). [The main finding there is that Nader forced Gore to take more progressive stands, actually gaining votes in Florida as a result.] Nader also mentioned that if the Democrats can't landslide this cycle, then they should pack it up as party. That sentiment has made the rounds and there is a grain of truth to it. One thing I'd like to add is that with enthusiasm so high on the Democratic side, is Nader's potential impact not muted anyway. [Here's the transcript of that MTP interview.]

Simmons, Solon. 2004. “One Man in Ten Thousand: Ralph Nader takes on the Presidency.” Wisconsin Political Scientist, Vol.10, No.2