Wednesday :: May 14, 2008

Saint Maverick's Mavericks Problem

by Turkana

A couple small problems could be looming for Saint Maverick. And as we saw in 2000 and 2004, even a small problem can turn out to be decisive. The Los Angeles Times Blog reported:

Virtually all the nation's political attention in recent weeks has focused on the compelling state-by-state presidential nomination struggle between two Democrats and the potential for party-splitting strife over there.

But in the Texas Rep. Ron Paul and his libertarian-minded GOP backers are collecting delegates at the local level and planning a revolt against Sen. John McCain at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in Septembereantime, quietly, largely under the radar of most people, the forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country to stage an embarrassing public revolt against Sen. John McCain when Republicans gather for their national convention in Minnesota at the beginning of September.

Paul's presidential candidacy has been correctly dismissed all along in terms of winning the nomination. He was even excluded as irrelevant by Fox News from a nationally-televised GOP debate in New Hampshire.

But what's been largely overlooked is Paul's candidacy as a reflection of a powerful lingering dissatisfaction with the Arizona senator among the party's most conservative conservatives. As anticipated in late March in The Ticket, that situation could be exacerbated by today's expected announcement from former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia for the Libertarian Party's presidential nod, a slot held by Paul in 1988.

And speaking of exacerbations, of course, Barr did exactly that. Taegan Goddard even thinks Barr's candidacy could put Georgia into play:

With former Republican Rep. Bob Barr's announcement yesterday that he'll run for president as a Libertarian, he could actually play a very critical role in deciding the next president.

Most people think Barr's candidacy will drain votes from Sen. John McCain. Though Barr says he's not getting in the race to play a spoiler, that's clearly how he'll make the biggest impact. Hiring Ross Perot's former campaign manager doesn't mean he'll gather support anywhere near the levels Perot did in 1992 and 1996. But he can reach single digit support in many states. Ralph Nader was a spoiler in the 2000 election with just 2.7% of the national vote.

The one state to watch is Barr's home state of Georgia, where he could conceivably get five or more percent of the vote. Georgia has long been seen as part of the GOP base. However, when combined with the large numbers of black voters expected to come out for Sen. Barack Obama, Barr's candidacy could possibly tip the state's 15 electoral votes to the Democrats. That could be the difference in a close election.

Goddard goes on to say that because Barr opposes the war, he could drain votes from presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama. I think he twice overstates Barr's impact, as very few Obama voters would switch to a right wing extremist like Barr, but I also doubt Barr can put a deep red state like Georgia into play. Even so, both Barr and Paul may prove to be headaches for John McCain. Already, in recent primaries, roughly a fourth of the Republican vote is going to people who are not John McCain. That could be telling. In what may be a very tight electoral college map, a couple headaches like that could be decisive in true swing states.

Turkana :: 3:04 PM :: Comments (13) :: Digg It!