Sunday, June 22, 2008

Looking for the illusive Barr Effect in our presidential polls

Presidential polling has now become one of the weapons that the Demopublican electoral monopoly uses to continue to marginalize third-party efforts--especially those of Ralph Nader and the LP's Bob Barr.

See, the potential Barr effect, right now only considered by the MSM in Georgia and North Carolina, is far more worrying than the Nader effect of 2000.

Why? Because the evidence is starting to suggest--if only in whispers--that the Libertarian candidate may well be drawing votes away from Barack Obama as well as John McCain.

Two examples:

The recent Insider Advantage poll of the presidential race in Georgia shows Barr with 6% of the overall vote, but also that the Libertarian candidate takes 5% from the Democrats while garnering 7.5% from GOPers.

Fox News (yeah, yeah, I know) shows Bob Barr at 2% nationwide, but has him drawing equally from Democrats and Republicans.

Meanwhile, at Lindsay Politics, we get some of the only numbers of available on how Barr is polling in other states (the ones where Lindsay feels that Barr could conceivably tilt the race to Obama):

The Barr Effect Revised
I made Estimates a while ago on what Bob Barr would need to get to help Obama in the south. these numbers are in flux so here they are as of today. In parentheses is the percentage he [Barr] is getting right now. (*-Obama is in the Lead):

AL- 23% (6%)
AR-17% (8%)
FL*-1% (N/A)
GA- 7% (6%)
IN*-1% (N/A)
KY-12% (N/A)
LA- 9% (3%)
MS- 9% (3%)
MO*-1% (N/A)
NC1- 6% (4%)
OK- Denied Ballot Access
SC- 6% (N/A)
TN- 16% (N/A)
TX- 13% (N/A)
VA*- 1% (N/A)
WV- 21% (13%

1-in my Estimation Obama is Taking North Carolina, But no polls indicate that yet.
Watch these Numbers.

What kind of vote would these poll numbers turn out to be, in terms of the 2004 election?

Here's the Libertarian vote in 2004 in these states, juxtaposed with the percentage Barr is said to be carrying now:

Alabama 3,495 in 2004; at the current 6% Barr would stand to get 112,951
Arkansas 2,352 in 2004; at the current 8% Barr would stand to get 84,441
Georgia 18,387 in 2004; at the current 6% Barr would stand to get 200,155
Louisiana 2,781 in 2004; at the current 3% Barr would stand to get 53,876
Mississippi 1,793 in 2004; at the current 3% Barr would stand to get 34,094
North Carolina 11,731 in 2004; at the current 4% Barr would stand to get 140.022
West Virginia 1,405 in 2004; at the current 13% Barr would stand to get 98,264

I think the North Carolina percentage he quotes is low by a third, while the West Virginia percentage is about double what I'd give him, but those two discrepancies actually pretty much cancel each other out. So we are left with the current suggestion that in seven states wherein the Libertarians captured only 41,944 votes in 2004, that the Barr/Root ticket is on pace to gather somewhere on the order of 723,80 votes--closing on twice as many votes as the Libertarian Party garnered in all fifty states in 2004.

Let's assume, for sake of argument, that these figures are grossly inflated by a factor of three: that still leaves Barr with over 225,000 votes in six states, well on the pace to break 1 million votes and potentially influence some key states.

But the press and polling organizations are doing their best either to not talk about this phenomena or to relegate it to Georgia and North Carolina only.

A case in point: Nevada (Wayne Allyn Root's home state, if it matters).

In 2004 Nevada gave the LP just 3,176 votes of 827,046 (not quite four-tenths of one percent).

The race this year is being listed as, well--let's let the Las Vegas Review-Journal tell us:

The presidential contest is well within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It confirms the conventional wisdom that Nevada is a swing state that might throw its electoral votes to either candidate in November.

"It's a statistical tie. It's a toss-up," said pollster Brad Coker, managing partner of Mason-Dixon. "Nevada is a battleground. It's clearly a state both candidates, both campaigns, both parties are going to pay a lot of attention to....

McCain, who has been able to lay claim to his party's nomination longer than Obama, sewed up 78 percent of the Republican vote, while Obama had 71 percent of Democrats.

With 15 percent of Democrats saying they'll vote for McCain and another 14 percent undecided, that's 29 percent of his own party not currently supporting Obama, a high number that Duffy said might be the residual effect of Clinton's candidacy.

Both candidates have staked their campaigns on their appeal to voters who aren't registered with a political party. In that group, McCain polled markedly better than Obama, 43 percent to 32 percent.

A larger proportion of independents, 25 percent, were undecided than any other demographic group in the poll.

Pollster Coker said that with Democrats ahead in voter registration in Nevada and the national mood hostile to Republicans, McCain will have to hold on to his lead among independents in order to have a chance in the state.

"This race is going to be a battle for independents, and right now, in the battle for independents, McCain is ahead," he said.

Rasmussen reports it differently. Rasmussen, we noted last week, sometimes includes third party candidates and sometimes doesn't, sees McCain fading:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in Nevada shows John McCain attracting 45% of the vote while Barack Obama earns 42%. A month ago, McCain had a six point lead and two months ago ago the GOP hopeful was up by five. This is the first Rasmussen Reports poll in Nevada since Barack Obama wrapped up the Democratic Presidential Nomination and Hillary Clinton dropped out of the race.

Neither organization ever mentions Bob Barr, but look at the profile Rasmussen gives for Nevada voters:

By a 51% to 43% margin, Nevada voters say it is more important to get the troops home from Iraq than it is to win the War. Those figures are close to the national average.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) believe that drilling should be allowed in offshore oil wells, a figure that puts Nevada voters squarely in line with voters across the nation.

Seventy-two percent (72%) of Nevada voters say that the federal government itself has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests while 13% disagree. Just 14% believe the government today represents the will of the American people. Those figures are also very close to the national average.

Forty-five percent (45%) say that free trade is good for the nation while 28% say it is not. Those figures are more supportive of free trade than the national average, but similar to results from Colorado.

Leave Iraq? Drill for oil? Suspicion of government motives? Free trade a good thing?

Sounds suspiciously like Libertarian issues....

And in fact, the Boston Globe notes that

Some analysts say Barr could be a spoiler, taking votes away from presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in key swing states, including Colorado, Nevada, and his home state of Georgia.

But try and find Barr or even Nader in state-by-state polling. Real Clear Politics has finally added Barr into the mix in Georgia, though not North Carolina. Everybody else, it seems, is content to avoid the subject.

Why? From both the Dempublican and MSM perspective (which is essentially one and the same), the worst thing that could happen this November is that candidates like Barr, Nader, Baldwin, McKinney, and even Phillies could sap sufficient votes this way or that to tilt certain battleground states unpredictably.

Some may want Bob Barr to help knock off John McCain, but few if any actually want to see that third party rabble influence the returns of both parties.

Which is all the more reason to think about making that happen.

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