With Ron Paul officially out of the race and set to stage his “mini-convention” at the official RNC convention set for Minneapolis-Saint Paul in September, the attention now turns to Bob Barr and how much damage this libertarian candidate will do to McCain.
Barr, who is polling around 6% in his home state of Georgia, puts at least one state in play for Obama. Georgia is potentially worth 15 votes in the Electoral College, has a sizable African-American population, and Obama is currently pulling 22% of the white vote there. In a new poll, he is one percentage point behind McCain. With these numbers, it’s already at risk and if Barr makes a move upward, Georgia is lost.
Nationally, Rasmussen had Barr pulling 6% of the the vote (7% of Republicans) in an early, and probably meaningless, poll. That said, assuming Barr can pull even 1 or 2% in certain states like Florida and New Hampshire, there is a possibility that Obama takes Florida and ensures a win in NH.
The unknown in all this, is what will Ron Paul do? He already plans to stage his rally outside of the official convention. According to an interview with Fox News, he has stated some support for Barr. “Bob Barr, I’m hopeful, will do a better job as a third-party candidate than average, but he’s going to have a tough time.” And he has seriously questioned McCain’s platform on Iraq, taxes, immigration, and so on. It seems likely that he will be unable to endorse McCain, and if he did, he would lose a large part of his rabid, financially supportive base.
So where does that leave McCain? Seriously exposed on his libertarian flank. This is a story that is currently flying under the radar, but it will have major repercussions come this fall. These libertarians voters are serious and fed up. Will Bob Barr be McCain’s Nader?
Don’t bet against it.