Crashing the Gates: How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President, by Ralph Nader, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 383 pages, $24.95
THE SUBTITLE OF Ralph Nader's new campaign memoir is "How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President." On page 261, Nader states flatly that it's "not true" most of his 2.8 million votes otherwise would have gone to Al Gore. His evidence "Exit polls by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg showed that 25 percent of our voters would have voted for Bush, 38 percent would have voted for Gore, and the rest would not have voted at all." In a February appearance on C-SPAN, Nader quoted the same figures as fact, without attribution.
Well, it is not a fact, and it is not "the truth." More accurately, it is the one survey Nader could find that comes close to serving his own personal agenda--in this case, to suggest despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary that maybe he didn't cost Gore the election after all.
It turns out there were other surveys addressing this very question, but Nader doesn't like bringing them up. The Voter News Service, which interviewed 13,000 voters instead of Greenberg's 1,000, estimated that Nader supporters would have chosen Gore over Bush by 47 percent to 21 percent, with the rest abstaining. A CNN study of Florida--where Bush beat Gore by 537 votes and the Green Party candidate received more than 90,000--put the Gore preference at a whopping 60 percent. Both polls were in the public domain by November 8,2000, when Nader answered his first two "Did you spoil the election?" questions at the morning-after press conference by quoting that legendary number-cruncher, Tom Brokaw. First, he offered this: "Tom Brokaw said that most of my vote came from nonvoters who came in for the first time, young voters, and people who dropped out of voting for many years." When confronted with the Voter News Service data, Nader replied: "First of all, I really don't know the way these figures play out. If y ou hear Tom Brokaw, you would think that was not the case.
Eighteen hours earlier, I had watched the Nader 2000 crew engage in a far more flagrant manipulation of the truth, more egregious than anything else I witnessed during my two months covering the campaign for the lefty news site WorkingForChange.com Even before the first preliminary exit poll data crossed the wires, young staffers, on the orders of campaign headquarters, were frantically devising multiple formulas to "prove" that Nader didn't cost Gore the election, no matter what the results might say later. "That's shocking," I told one of the harried idealists charged with carrying out the deception. The faces around the computer, for what it's worth...