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October 26, 2004

New York Times analysis: Badnarik's impact could be 'critical'

WASHINGTON -- Move over, Ralph Nader: A New York Times analysis says that Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik could be 'critical' to the outcome of the 2004 election, and that the party's 2000 candidate may have cost Bush at least four states.

In the Sunday, October 24 "Political Points" column, New York Times writer John Tierney asserts that in 2000, Bush "could have won Florida easily, and possibly several other states, if the Libertarian candidate, Harry Browne, was not in the race," assuming that Browne's votes would have gone to Bush.

In Florida, Browne earned 16,415 votes, while Bush defeated Al Gore by just 537 votes.

In three states won by Gore -- New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin -- Browne won more votes than the difference separating Bush and Gore, the article notes. In New Mexico, for example, Gore prevailed by 366 votes while Browne earned 2,058, and in Wisconsin, Gore beat Bush by 5,708 votes while Browne garnered 6,640.

With New Mexico, Wisconsin and other battleground states too close to call again in 2004, Libertarian Badnarik has the potential to "Naderize" Bush by attracting conservative votes, according to Tierney and other analysts.

A recent Zogby/Reuters national poll shows Badnarik tied with Nader at 1 percentage point, which is "not much, but possibly critical" to the outcome on Election Day, Tierney says.

Rasmussen polls have put Badnarik as high as 5 percent in New Mexico and 3 percent in Nevada, which Bush won by just 4 percentage points in 2000.

Increasing Badnarik's impact, according to Tierney: "Unlike Mr. Nader, Mr. Badnarik is on the ballot of every battleground state except New Hampshire."

Nader will be absent from the ballot in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Oregon, Missouri and other key states, prompting many analysts to predict that Badnarik will have a bigger impact on Bush than Nader will have on Democrat John Kerry.

In an attempt to attract votes from fiscal conservatives, the Libertarian Party has launched an advertising blitz on the conservative Fox News Channel -- a campaign that is "aimed directly at Mr. Bush's Republican base," notes the Times article.

Responds Joseph Seehusen, executive director of the Libertarian Party: "Fiscal conservatives aren't abandoning the Republican Party; the Republican Party has abandoned fiscal conservatives. Bush has fattened up the government far more in percentage terms than Bill Clinton did, and responsible voters don't want to reward that behavior. So they're sending a message by voting Libertarian."


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