A first for the Libertarian Party: A presidential candidate with an Electoral College strategy:
Barr and his campaign manager, Russell Verney, said they’re developing a plan to raise $30 million before Nov. 4, and a plan to target certain states that Barr said are “top priority in terms of meeting the goals, both the vote goals and the electoral vote goals.” . . .
“There are certain states that are a one-party state,” said Verney, a veteran of independent Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign, when the Texas billionaire got more than 19 percent of the vote. “Republicans write off certain states, Democrats write off certain states. We will devote more resources to certain states.”
Those states would most likely include Barr’s home state of Georgia, where one recent poll showed him getting 8 percent, compared to 45 percent for Republican John McCain and 35 percent for likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama.
Having recently been on several talk-radio shows where the hosts seemed obsessed with the notion of Barr as a “spoiler” for Republican John McCain, I share David Weigel’s assessment that the MSM (e.g., this Christian Science Monitor story about Barr’s showing in an Insider Advantage poll of Georgia) is “missing the forest for the trees”:
Barr doesn’t actually need to spoil Georgia, to use the state. He merely needs to force McCain to fight for the state. That, as much as Florida, was the effect of the 2000 Nader run. In the waning days of the race, Al Gore had to waste time campaigning in states he should have locked up long before, like Minnesota and Oregon, because Nader was polling close to 10 percent in them.
A simplistic “spoiler” conception of Barr’s LP bid ignores certain wild-card scenarios. For instance, what if Barr takes advantage of the “Hillbillies for Hillary” phenomenon and capitalizes on Barack Obama’s weaknesses by campaigning in West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania? (The “Bitter for Barr” vote?) Ex-Libertarian Ron Paul got 16 percent of the vote in the Pennsylvania Republican primary, and 128,000 votes is nothing to sneer at in a key swing state.
It is possible (though by no means certain) that by appealing to disaffected voters of both major parties, Barr could force Republicans and Democrats alike to alter their campaign calculus. As Barr’s running mate, Vegas oddsmaker Wayne Allyn Root, might say, it’s like playing Texas Hold ‘Em with a joker in the deck.