BOSTON—If John Kerry loses this election, it will be because the "incumbent rule" proved true, but it still didn't benefit the Democratic candidate. Nine percent of the electorate, according to the national exit poll, made up their minds within the past three days. As predicted by polling experts, a fairly small proportion, only 40 percent, decided to cast ballots for President Bush. But John Kerry didn't benefit from their decision not to support the president. Instead, Ralph Nader did.
That's right, the undecideds broke disproportionately for Nader, not Kerry. If the poll is correct, Nader will receive only 1 percent of the popular vote. But 4 percent of the voters who made up their minds in the past three days cast ballots for Nader. Among the voters who made their decision on Election Day, 5 percent went for Nader.
Kerry's support, in contrast, was fairly static. Among the 11 percent of the country who made their decision in the last week of the election, according to the exit poll,Kerry's support was only 1 percent higher than his support among already decided voters. Nader's support quadrupled.
If the poll is accurate, the undecideds didn't break overwhelmingly for the challenger, as predicted, but they did break for him. Unfortunately for Kerry, everyone forgot there was more than one challenger.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Democrats’ War at Home
How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best
Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke
A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking
Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10
Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.
How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.
You Deserve a Pre-cation
The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.