Their names are familiar, but not the way we know “John McCain” or “Barack Obama.” They raised a total of about $6 million -- compared to more than $650 million raised by Obama and $360 million raised by McCain. In case you missed it, Ralph Nader (independent, raised $3.9 million), Bob Barr (Libertarian, $1.3 million), Cynthia McKinney (Green, about $190,000) and Chuck Baldwin (Constitution, $240,000) were all candidates for President of the United States. There are more, but these are the major players in the minor leagues of presidential electoral politics. Libertarian-leaning Republican Ron Paul, who raised about $4.7 million, dropped out of the race.
So how did these candidates fare? In past elections, third party candidates have been spoilers – Ross Perot in 1992, Nader in 2000 (when he got nearly 3 million votes). But this year, the also-rans caused nary a blip, despite high hopes (Nader predicted his largest vote ever) and huge turnout (more than 130 million, about 8 million more than 2004) around the country.
Infuriating liberals and progressives, some of whom voted for him in 2000 and 2004, Nader joined the race in February of this year, saying he was running to combat corporate crime, Pentagon waste and labor rights. “Loathe isn’t a strong enough word,” commented a Hillary Clinton campaign advisor at the time. Obama called Nader a “hero” but “self-centered.”
With 76 percent of the votes tallied, Nader (on 49 state ballots) captured just over 500,000 votes, or .5 percent. Barr about garnered 400,000 votes at .4 percent, Chuck Baldwin about 140,000 votes or .14 percent and Cynthia McKinney 117,000 votes or .12 percent.
Barr did best in California and his native Georgia. Nader did best in Colorado and Connecticut, McKinney in California and Illinois, and Baldwin in Florida and Virginia. But none of them attracted enough votes to be a factor in the race between Obama and McCain.