Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Measuring the Spoiler effect, 2004

On Sunday, February 24th, Ralph Nader jumped into the race for President. I've heard a lot of radio hosts claim or at least imply that he might be a spoiler in the 2008 election. So I did some research.

The table on this Wikia page lists the counties in the 2004 election where the difference between the Democratic Vote and Republican Vote was less than the number of votes for other candidates. I might need to break out how many of those votes were actually for Mr. Nader, since it is a sum of all "other" candidates on the ballot, but let's go with what I have for now.

Please take a look, and let's break down these numbers. There are 63 counties on this list. 33 of these were won by John Kerry, and 30 were won by George Bush. The total number of counties that I have information about is 3113. So, 30/3113 is .009637. Less than 1% of counties were affected by the "spoiler effect" in 2004. The total number of votes that "helped" John Kerry is 21,722. The number of votes that "helped" George Bush is 17,444. So John Kerry was helped more by the "spoiler effect" overall than Bush was.

Still think Nader's candidacy is going to be a problem? I don't.

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