A Note on Naderization

Coverage of Bob Barr's Libertarian Party run is turning to the "spoiler" issue, and I think a lot of reporters are missing the forest for the trees. Here's John Fund:

Will that attention [paid to Barr] translate into enough votes to cost John McCain the presidential election, much as Ralph Nader is said to have "spoiled" Florida for Al Gore in 2000?

Linda Feldmann:

A recent poll by Insider Advantage showed Barr winning 8 percent of the November vote there versus 45 percent for McCain and 35 percent for Senator Obama. Georgia has a large African-American population, and if Obama can generate high turnout in that community, a key part of his base, then that plus Barr could cost McCain the state – and conceivably the election.

But 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. (Nader eventually broke 5 percent in both states.) Meanwhile, George W. Bush was able to expand the map and dither with an 11th hour California campaign jaunt.

McCain will have less money to spend than Obama, and Georgia's an expensive state. The last competitive statewide race, the 2002 Senate battle between Saxby Chambliss and Max Cleland, cost a total of $18 million. That's as much as McCain raised in the month of April. Unless Barr really takes off and starts scoring Perot-like numbers, that's the risk for McCain right now: Wasted resources and wasted time, while Obama is free to plunge into Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, etc.

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  • ||

    Spoiler, my ass. McCain's going to lose in a landslide because he has a basic personality flaw that prevents him from back-pedaling when he says something egregiously stupid (like "100 years in Iraq.)

    Bob Barr will probably set a record for votes cast for a Libertarian candidate, but the effect on McCain's chances are nil.

    What I'm hoping is that McCain's loss will be traumatic enough for the Republicans to do a major overhaul of their policies.

    -jcr

  • Mystery Politico||

    Barr is never going to do well enough in Georgia to force McCain to spend any resources on the state. 3rd party candidates always overpoll early on, and I expect that the same will be true with Barr, as he has no chance of catching on a la Ross Perot or Jesse Ventura. The 2000 election pretty much killed the chances of any "spoiler" candidacies taking off at the national level, except when the election is lopsided enough that the "spoiler" makes absolutely no difference anyway.

    And even if Barr does manage to crack 4% in a few states here and there, how many of those people would have voted for McCain if Barr was not on the ballot? How many would have stayed home, or voted for another indy candidate, or even voted for Obama?

  • ||

    The place to look for the spoiler effect is not Georgia, but states where the vote is likely to be closer, such as possibly Ohio and Florida.

    That doesn't take away from Weigel's point, but you can't discount the spoiler effect.

    I also don't think the election is going to be a landslide. Most states are solidly 'red' or 'blue', and the real question is the number of swing states this time versus 2004. Probably too early to tell any of this yet, but I suspect the election will be a lot closer than many think.

  • snootful||

    My fondest hope is that Barr tanks badly enough to discredit him and his crypto-theocon ilk and sent them scurrying back to the GOP where they belong. An LP that welcomes actual libertarians - am I a crazy dreamer?

  • ||

    If only "fighting" for a State meant more than touching down on the tarmac at a few major airports and running innumerable ads attacking opponents on radio and TV.

    If the effect of the Barr candidacy would be to get the candidates to personally spend more quality time, discussing issues of substance with and in front of voters they might otherwise have taken (or left) for granted, that alone would be a tremendous service done by Barr and the LP on behalf of the American people. What'll it take to make THAT happen?

  • ||

    An LP that welcomes actual libertarians - am I a crazy dreamer?

    Not at all...crazy dreamers like you are responsible for the LP's stunning (lack of) electoral success over the past 30 some odd years.

  • Guy Montag||

    snootful,

    Well, no you are not a crazy dreamer. But finding that candidate who is for wide open borders, the gold standard and isolationism at the same time might take a while.

  • ||

    My fondest hope is that Barr tanks badly enough to discredit him and his crypto-theocon ilk and sent them scurrying back to the GOP where they belong.

    A Libertarian Party (or a libertarian party, for that matter) that sends guys who are 95% libertarian "scurrying back" to another party will never amount to anything.

  • Guy Montag||

    Well, no you are not a crazy dreamer. But finding that candidate who is for wide open borders, the gold standard and isolationism all at the same time, since birth might take a while.

    Sorry about that, fixed now.

  • ||

    I'm starting to dislike the word "spoil". The reason Gore lost in 2000 was because people DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM! The fact that Greens voted for Kerry out of a sense of guilt in 2004 is irrelevant. Gore had not rights to those votes and Nader did not steal them from him.

    Ditto for Barr and McCain. It is the height of arrogance for Republicans candidates to act as if Republican voters are duty bound serfs obligated to vote for whomever the electoral process manages to nominate.

    "Spoiling" implies that only two parties are legitimate. Maybe it's Gore who spoiled Nader's vote in 2000! Maybe it's McCain who's spoiling Barr's race!

  • Guy Montag||

    Brandybuck,

    If we had less global warming there would be less spoilage . . .

  • ||

    A Libertarian Party (or a libertarian party, for that matter) that sends guys who are 95% libertarian "scurrying back" to another party will never amount to anything.

    LOL...thanks for making my point better than I did, Brian24.

  • ||

    As for Obama campaigning in Nevada, I am a Nevada voter, and I usually vote Republican.

    Most likely I will be voting for Barr. So there is one vote lost on the R side. Hopefully there will be many more.

  • ||

    I have a confession:
    I was not a libertarian at birth.

    *puts hands over face*
    *runs away, sobbing*

  • ||

    Maybe it's Gore who spoiled Nader's vote in 2000! Maybe it's McCain who's spoiling Barr's race!

    Nader spoiled American's ability to drive without seat belts.

    Barr tried to spoil soldiers right to practice wicca.

  • ||

    Brandybuck
    Exactly, you have to earn those votes. All those Republicans voting for McCain just because he is an R deserve a RINO.

  • ||

    So can our paleo/cosmo and radical/reform tendencies be plotted on a four-cornered graph like the Nolan Chart?

  • ||

    Answer Yes or No.

    1) The Kochtopus is an evil sumbitch. Burn it.

    2) Dope smokers are hippy scum. Pray for them.

    3) Friedman kicks Rothbards ass. Write it down.

    4) Badnarick was misunderstood.

  • ||

    5) No fluoride. Colloidal silver!

    6) Heroin should be banned in public schools.

    7) The South shall rise again.

    8) Ron Paul can run faster than most black boys.

    9) Abolish marriage now!

    10) Pakalolo kicks Friedman's and Rothbard's asses.

  • ||

    Scoring:
    0-3 Yes = out of the LP
    4-8 Yes = out of the LP
    9 and 10 Yes = out of the LP

  • ||

    Because McCain is in for such a route, and because Barr has such conservative cred, there will be very little holding of noses and voting for the Republican amongst right-leaning libertarians.

    Barr could very well approach 10% in this election. And unlike Nader, he seems to have enough loyalty and responsibility to concentrate his efforts where his potential vote is the highest, in order to help the party with ballot access in those states.

  • svf||

    11) Yogi Berra > Ayn Rand > Cicero

  • ||

    12) Does it matter that this survey was mailed through the USPS?

  • svf||

    12) Black Cowboy Hat > V for Vendetta mask

    13) Marrou > Means > Russo > Crane > Hospers > NOTA > Barr

  • ||

    1 no
    2 no
    3 no
    4 no
    5 yes

    6 no
    7 no
    8 no
    9 yes
    10 yes


    OK so how do you chart that?

  • ||

    Sorry, Warren. Looks like the LP has no place for you.

  • snootful||

    A Libertarian Party (or a libertarian party, for that matter) that sends guys who are 95% libertarian "scurrying back" to another party will never amount to anything.



    Get back to me when the LP actually wins something besides headlines from their sellout.



    Well, no you are not a crazy dreamer. But finding that candidate who is for wide open borders, the gold standard and isolationism all at the same time, since birth might take a while.



    I'd settle for someone who didn't spend a good chunk of his life in government waging all-out war on several core libertarian values.

  • Shane Savoie||

    Who in the hell thinks McCain has a chance in November? Besides his lack of popularity within his own party, he has saddled himself with the worst of Dubya's baggage: Iraq.
    Anyone pushing a line in the general direction of "Iraq was a bad idea" will kick his ass.
    Even if Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin, Cynthia McKinney, AND Ralph Nader all ENDORSED McCain, he would still have his sorry ass handed to him in November!

  • ||

    Because McCain is in for such a route'

    RC's Law?

  • ||

    11) Yogi Berra > Ayn Rand > Cicero

    To quote all 3 at once:

    "Freedom is a possession of inestimable value. But if A wants to equal A, nobody's gonna stop 'em"

  • ||

    Thought you were talking about his motorcade, joe.

  • ||

    A ain't A until it's A.

  • ||

    a) Comparing Barr in GA to Nader in OR/MN doesn't make much sense because Nader is not a popular former Rep from OR or MN. If Barr starts polling near double digits in some place like VA, which really could tip, then McCain should be worried.

    b) Comparing Obama/CO,NV,OH to Bush/CA doesn't make much sense either because Obama almost certainly needs 1 or 2 of those to win.

  • ||

    Reinmoose,

    As I set the wheel of doctrine in motion, I see no place for you in libervana.

  • ||

    The problem with this whole theory is that it assumes McCain appearing in more states will be beneficial to his cause. I'd submit that the exact opposite is the case. 95% of the voters in the 2008 election will be voting against something, not for it. The candidate who keeps his face out of the media the most will win. McCain's relative poverty is an asset. If he has to campaign, the least damaging places to do so will be states he's going to win anyway.

  • B||

    The notion that a Republican won't win Georgia is about as stupid as the notion that Bob Barr will get more than a handful of votes anywhere.

  • ||

    I'm thrilled that the LP nominated Barr, even if he isn't a purist. If Barr starts polling over 5%, the major candidates will adopt a more libertarian stance on selected issues in order to win over his voters. This will result in more libertarian policies, no matter who gets elected.

    Don't laugh - things actually work that way. Virtually every plank of the socialist party platform of the early 1900's has been enacted into law, and the green party has had similar success on environmental issues. If we just run candidates who can get 5% instead of

  • ||

    . . .0%.

  • ||

    ... If we just run candidates who can get 5% instead of

  • ||

    If we just run candidates who can get 5% instead of under 1%, there's every reason to believe that we'll see more libertarian policies adopted by whoever wins the election.

    I firmly believe that you get what you vote for, even if your candidate doesn't win. You just get a bit less of it, that's all.


    PS: Pardon the chopped up posts. I just figured out why my comments got cut short... I had a less-than symbol in front of the 1%, and that symbol causes this site to freak out. It thinks I'm working on html code or some such.

  • ||

    My fondest hope is that Barr tanks badly enough to discredit him and his crypto-theocon ilk and sent them scurrying back to the GOP where they belong. An LP that welcomes actual libertarians - am I a crazy dreamer?

    Please describe whan n "actual libertarian"
    views would be.
    1.
    2.
    3.
    4.
    5.
    6.
    7.
    7 ¼.
    7 ½.
    7 ¾
    8.
    9.
    10.

    Does gaining the snootful mark of genuine libertarian approval include all, most, or just some of those wiews.

  • Bingo||

    What about the gay neo-pagan UFOlogist libertarian platform? Let their voice be heard! Don't let the 'L$bertaKKKian" BobHusseinBarr destroy their rights all in the name of the cryptofascist neo-con agenda.

  • ||

    Most likely I will be voting for Barr. So there is one vote lost on the R side. Hopefully there will be many more.

    Make that two. The GOP need to be punished. McCain-Feingold, NCLB, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, War in Iraq are just a few of the reasons. They may not learn from a electoral college beatdown, but they certainly won't without one.

    I'm willing to put up with 4 years of Obama with a Democratic congress if it forces the GOP to remove their cranium from their rectum.

  • snootful||

    Does gaining the snootful mark of genuine libertarian approval include all, most, or just some of those wiews.




    Yes.

  • ||

    This would be so much easier if we still had a GOP-controlled Congress. Or if we could be sure of getting one this time around. McCain's too likely to play nice with the Democrats to make him a sure vote for gridlock.

    However, I think the war clouds our judgment a bit on the potential horrors of an all-Democrat government. Guess I'm voting for Babar. That's two Bs, just not right next to each other.

  • Bingo||

    JsubD:

    I have zero faith in the GOP ever implementing libertarians ideas. They will pay them lipservice if they think it will help their electoral chances, but nothing beyond that.

    The only thing thats changed recently is that they've stopped the lipservice.

  • ||

    Bingo, they used to play limited government. I never expected them to go with libertarian personal freedom views, but until GWB they were measurably better than the Dems on taxes and spending.

    The Dems are equally guilty of only paying lip service to libertarians social views. How's ending the War on Drugs Brown People coming along in the blue states?

  • ||

    If the GOP proves itself incable of learning, then they may go the way of the Whigs.

  • ||

    The way to get the GOP to adopt libertarian policies is by voting for libertarians. That's how I vote in every election, and I won't change unless one of the major parties gets a proven track record of supporting the policies I want.

    Needless to say, I expect I'll vote libertarian for the foreseeable future.

  • Mystery Politico||

    "Barr could very well approach 10% in this election."

    Lol. Is there any enthusiasm for Barr's candidacy anywhere in the universe outside of this website? How many voters have even *heard* of Barr? Will that number really increase by much between now and November?

  • ||

    I'm voting for him. Don't have to like it. Don't expect any good to come from it. But I'm not going to vote for Obamamccain.

  • ||

    Quote: " The GOP need to be punished."

    Indeed. George Bush is justification for a box penalty of at least four years.

  • ||

    If the GOP proves itself incable of learning, then they may go the way of the Whigs.

    If the current ballot access laws had been in place in the 1840s, the Whigs would still be going strong.

  • ||

    Too often, I've seen John Fund look like a shill for establishment Republicans, so I'm not surprised that he'd focus on the spoiler question. What's sad is that he actually has the ability to do something much better.

  • GG||

    I, for one, will take great pleasure in Barring McCain.

  • TallDave||

    As much as he splits the anti-statist vote, Barr may actually take more votes away from Obama, because McCain isn't particularly anti-state and is campaigning on victory in Iraq, while Barr and Obama are both for withdrawal.

    I had assumed Obama would triangulate but with the primary essentially over he really hasn't moved much, beyond saying ok, maybe he won't talk to Ahmadinejad.

  • TallDave||

    Bingo, they used to play limited government.

    Yeah, even a lot of movement conservatives have commented that the GOP functions better as a party out of power, opposing everything the government tries to do.

  • TallDave||

    Also, it's odd that everyone obsesses over Nader, when Perot got 20% of the vote.

  • ||

    Also, it's odd that everyone obsesses over Nader, when Perot got 20% of the vote.

    I think it's because Perot never really felt like a spoiler in the sense that Nader was.

    There were a lot of folks - a LOT - who thought (or were scared to death) Perot might actually win...especially after the 3-way debate where he pretty much sealed Bush senior's doom with the "Potato Chip Man" jab.

    Nader, by contrast, always seemed like just a cranky jerk who fired up a subset of liberals angry over the fact that Clinton spent 8 years moving their beloved progressive support system to the center.

  • Guy Montag||

    I think it's because Perot never really felt like a spoiler in the sense that Nader was.

    I can see that for the emotional Left-leaner perspective, but when one looks at facts, Perot was the only credible "spoiler" in the last century. John Anderson being in second place or so.

  • Snootful||

    Perot was the only credible "spoiler" in the last century. John Anderson being in second place or so.



    Don't forget McCain's hero TR, who put the dread Woody Wilson in office by running as a Bull Moose.

  • ||

    Pagan Purist: "Abolish the military and fund defense through a privatized lottery company... Oh, and damn Barr for denying civilian killing soldiers in Iraq the right to have taxpayer funded pagan chaplains!"

  • ||

    "Scoring:
    0-3 Yes = out of the LP
    4-8 Yes = out of the LP
    9 and 10 Yes = out of the LP"

    This (and the preceding questions) are about the funniest thing I've read on here.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    Mark it down: Barr is going to win Georgia.

  • Kolohe||

    Comparing Barr in GA to Nader in OR/MN doesn't make much sense because Nader is not a popular former Rep from OR or MN

    I'm not sure he's a popular former rep from GA either, considering he lost 2-1 in the primary when he got redistricted into another republican congressman

  • Guy Montag||

    I should have said post WWII in my last comment.

  • joe||

    You shouldn't have written your last comment, Guy, because it's false.

    http://www.fairvote.org/?page=1640

    Analysis: Perot's vote totals in themselves likely did not cause Clinton to win. Even if all of these states had shifted to Bush and none of Bush's victories had been reversed (as seems plausible, in fact, as Bush won by less than 5% only in states that a Republican in a close election could expect to carry, particularly before some of the partisan shifts that took place later in the 1990s: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia), Clinton still would have won the electoral college vote by 281 to 257. But such a result obviously would have made the race a good deal closer.

  • Robert Stacy McCain||

    What I'm hoping is that McCain's loss will be traumatic enough for the Republicans to do a major overhaul of their policies.


    I foolishly thought their 2006 disaster might do that. It seems hopeless.

  • Joel||

    My fondest dream is to see presidential (and senatorial! And congressional! Dare to dream!) elections fought with guns. With massive casualties among the combatants.

  • ||


    " The GOP need to be punished." George Bush is justification for a box penalty of at least four years. ---Chilli


    The election system in the US is not a hockey game. --(and not that civil either)

  • ||

    Barr replying to Neil Cavuto about stealing votes from McCain:

    I cannot think of any reason why somebody who is predisposed to vote for John McCain, a big-government Republican, would choose instead to switch from John McCain to Bob Barr, a small-government Libertarian. It would make no sense.


    Bang on, especially in light of Huckabee's lamentable horseshit.

  • Dona||

    Gosh, I hope they don't "Barr" him from the debates (general election). We could always respond with signs saying: "Dude, where's my Barr?"

  • Col. Hogan||

    To my knowledge, Bob Barr is no libertarian. As a conservative, he's closer to libertarianism than most Republicans, but if he signed the LP Pledge, he lied.

    I'm not interested in spoiling the election for either Barry Obama or John McCain. One of them is going to win, and either one will be bad for you, me and the rest of the country. I'm interested in nominating a consistent libertarian to run for the office, one who can spell out the benefits of liberty and individual rights clearly, succinctly and passionately, such that will resonate with all freedom-loving individuals.

    I may end up holding my nose and voting for Barr, but if I do, it'll be because he's the lesser of three weevils.

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