Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 2 > Issue 3

Did Ralph Nader Spoil Al Gore's Presidential Bid? A Ballot-Level Study of Green and Reform Party Voters in the 2000 Presidential Election

Michael C. Herron, Department of Government, Dartmouth College, USA, Michael.C.Herron@Dartmouth.edu Jeffrey B. Lewis, Department of Political Science, University of California, USA, jblewis@ucla.edu
Suggested Citation
Michael C. Herron and Jeffrey B. Lewis (2007), "Did Ralph Nader Spoil Al Gore's Presidential Bid? A Ballot-Level Study of Green and Reform Party Voters in the 2000 Presidential Election", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 2: No. 3, pp 205-226. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00005039

Published: 13 Aug 2007
© 2007 M. C. Herron and J. B. Lewis
Voting behavior,  Presidential politics

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In this article:
Ballot Images from the 2000 General Election
Statistical Methods
Creating a Naderless and Buchananless Counterfactual
Reallocations Based on Estimated Voter Partisanships
Non-Parametric Reallocations of Nader and Buchanan Voters


The 2000 presidential race included two major party candidates – Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore – and two prominent third-party candidates – Ralph Nader of the Green Party and Pat Buchanan of the Reform Party. Although it is often presumed that Nader spoiled the 2000 election for Gore by siphoning away votes that would have been cast for him in the absence of a Nader candidacy, we show that this presumption is rather misleading. Although Nader voters in 2000 are somewhat pro-Democrat and Buchanan voters are correspondingly pro-Republican, both types of voters are surprisingly close to being partisan centrists. Indeed, we show that at least 40% of Nader voters in the key state of Florida would have voted for Bush, as opposed to Gore, had they turned out in a Naderless election. The other 60% did indeed spoil the 2000 presidential election for Gore but only because of highly idiosyncratic circumstances, namely, Florida's extreme closeness. Our results are based on studying over 46 million vote choices cast on approximately three million ballots from across Florida in 2000. More generally, the results demonstrate how ballot studies are capable of illuminating aspects of third-party presidential voters that are otherwise beyond scrutiny.


Replication Data | 100.00005039_supp.zip (ZIP).

This file contains the data that is required to replicate the data on your own system.

DOI: 10.1561/100.00005039_supp

Online Appendix | 100.00005039_app.pdf

This is the article's accompanying appendix.

DOI: 10.1561/100.00005039_app