Monday, September 15, 2008

If nothing else, the nomination of Sarah Palin closes the book on Bob Barr

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.

7 comments:

Eric Dondero said...

That's one way of looking at it. Here's another.

Bob Barr's campaign for President has already succeeded beyond any previous Libertarian Campaign ever.

Ask yourself this question, and I'm probably revealing too much information here, so I speak in generalities.

If former Congressman Bob Barr was not the LP Presidential candidate, and if he hadn't been polling so well, do you honestly believe that John McCain would have picked the most libertarian VP candidate on a major party ticket since Goldwater?

That's as far as I'll go right now. On November 5, details will be permitted to be released on this subject.

Eric Dondero said...

BTW, it's very likely Barr will still pull over 1 million votes, particularly now that it appears McCain might be pulling comfortably ahead.

Success as measured by Barr's campaign is 922,000 votes + 1. Anything over that magic number, and Barr will forever have the title, "Best Libertaian Campaign for President of all-time" attached to his name.

I'm almost certain he'll reach that number.

Eric Dondero said...

How ironic you describe Sarah Palin as a "social conservative." In her campaign for Lt. Gov. in 2004 and subsequently for Governor in 2006 the social cons, and Murkowski-ites in the GOP primary painted Palin as "too moderate on social issues." There was even a whisper campaign that she was a "closet libertarian."

Now, here we are 2 years later and people like you try to label her as a "social conservative." Amazing.

Eric Dondero said...

If you manage to turn the Libertarian Party into a Leftwing Daily Kos quasi-libertarian organization, versus originalist Libertarianism of Goldwater, you will destroy the LP. But maybe that's okay, cause if Palin wins that will validate the libertarian Republican strategy. A bonafide libertarian one heartbeat away from the White House. What could be better for libertarian groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus and Club for Growth than a Palin victory?

1440 minutes said...

Eric,

Sarah Palin is a neocon just as you are. Neither one of you are libertarian.

Brian said...

Murkowski-ites in the GOP primary painted Palin as "too moderate on social issues."

Yeah, I mean, the far-right fringe is a *great* judge of moderation on social issues.

Palin doesn't advocate the stoning of disobedient children, the moderate milquetoast!

If Ya Smell What Barack is Cookin' said...

Hey, Milton Bradley Dondero, this is Parker Brothers--your Clue is missing!

Do you really think McCain picked the Pit-Bullied Pig With Lipstick?

Fact is, the GOP handlers did. They did it in a desperate attempt to change the "grumpy-old-white-guy" look of their party, and in doing so they picked a sure fire loser--as we are seeing daily.

Meanwhile, Panama John's adviser, Phil "Nation of Whiners" Gramm, is exposed as the braintrhust behind the loosening of the regulations that has led to the meltdown we're seeing right now in the markets.

And you support these losers?

You mistake the Homecoming Queen for a libertarian. Try "librarian"--as in dominatrix librarian...she'll truly make words hurt you!

And that could be Angela Keaton's fault, too, but I doubt it.