You can go back and forth over the Sarah Barracuda resume and her handling by the press, but it's clear that John McCain scored a twofer with her nomination:
1) Throwing the Obama camp into dissarray; and
2) Eliminating the serious threat that Bob Barr would draw off sufficient conservatives to bulk up the Libertarian vote and perhaps cost McCain a battleground state or two.
Here's the evidence:
In Georgia, Bob Barr's June/July high of 6-8% is now down to the 2-3% range. Meanwhile, Libertarian Senatorial candidate Allen Buckley is moving up to 4%.
In New Hampshire, Bob Barr's 7-11% in July has dwindled to 2% in September (with Nader eclipsing him at 4%), while Libertarian Senatorial candidate Ken Blevens is also moving up to 3%.
In Arizona, where Bob Barr had polled as high as 7% in June he's now down to 1%.
In Ohio, where some polls had Bob Barr as high as 6-7% in June, he is now struggling to hold 1%.
Why is this happening? Barr's entire campaign strategy was based on appealing not to Libertarians, not to libertarians, and not even to libertarian-leaning Republicans, but to conservatives alienated by John McCain's centrist positions. As McCain stumbled through the summer, disaffected GOP social conservatives threatened either to stay home or support Barr.
Enter Sarah Palin, who could at best be described as a slightly-libertarian-leaning social conservative. Not only did she throw the Obama folks for a loop, she took all the wind out of the sails of the Barr-Verney conservative-protest-vote strategy.
And in the meantime, Barr had so alienated much of the Libertarian base (that dependable 400-600,000 who have voted LP in one of the two last elections) that they aren't there either. If any were thinking about coming around, Snubgate killed that prospect.
So it's important to realize that John McCain's recent bounce in the polls is only partially attributable to an Obama decline. Around 2-3% of that surge is disaffected conservatives returning home to the GOP [where personally I'd like them to stay].
That part of the bounce is likely to be permanent; I can foresee Sarah Palin losing ground with the undecideds, but not with the social conservative/evangelical base.
That's bad news for Obama, because it recovers a few million voters for McCain who were never going to vote Democrat in any event, and thus represents a permanent tightening of the race.
Ironically, that's good news for the Libertarian movement (and especially the Libertarian Alliance I'd love to see replace the LNC), because had Bob Barr been able on Election Day to garner 3-5% of the vote nationwide it would have seemingly validated the LP as nothing other than a haven for displaced conservatives. It would have potentially set back the Libertarian movement by at least a decade.
Now, however, as the Palin factor appears to be reducing Barr to increasing irrelevance, those of us who want to rebuild a real nationwide Libertarian movement will be able to say, Sorry, guys, you've tried the experiment once, and it didn't work.
All of which, I hasten to remind you, must be Angela Keaton's fault.