Yesterday I pointed out that the Libertarian Party is ready to offer up its nomination to Ron Paul should he lose his congressional bid and decide to continue his presidential race outside the GOP. Today CNN has some evidence that Paul could cost the GOP the state of Texas in November.
Assuming McCain is the Republican presidential nominee, 52 percent of poll respondents said they would vote for him, compared with 44 percent for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the current Democratic front-runner.
That's actually shockingly good: No Democrat has hit 44 percent in Texas since Bill Clinton in 1996. And in 1992 he got fewer votes but almost won Texas. George H.W. Bush only carried the state by about 214,000 votes while Ross Perot pulled in 1,354,000 votes. Which brings us to this…
However, a conservative third-party candidate could skew the results—and spell trouble for McCain, according to polling results. In that scenario, 19 percent of Texas poll respondents said they would vote for the third-party candidate, 37 percent for McCain and 41 percent for Obama.
Hm. A "conservative third-party candidate" with a Texas political base and the financial power to make a real run at this. Maybe a far-right congressman who refuses to endorse McCain and could run around the state warning Republicans that the GOP candidate supports amnesty and wants to extend the Trans-Texas Corridor to Nunavut. Can you think of anyone who'd fit the bill?
Oh, I know the argument that Paul would pull more votes from the Democrat since he'd be running against the war. That was true when Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner, but it's not going to be true if Obama gets the nod. The disgruntled vote will be all ornery Republicans who can't believe their party nominated "McVain." And if there isn't quite enough of that to give Texas to Obama, there could be enough to make McCain waste precious time and money in a state that went to Bush over Kerry by 23 points.
UPDATE: Texas election law is here. I know that Paul could not follow the usual protocols for a third party candidate as long as he's running as a Republican for the House. Texas isn't Connecticut. But I believe the LP might be able to nominate a placeholder candidate, yank him or her, and replace him with Paul. This is what Republicans tried to do with Tom DeLay, although he failed to meet the deadline and they eventually had to run an election with no GOP candidate. In that election the GOP told voters to write in a city councilwoman: She scored 42 percent of the vote this way. So that's another possible way for a purged Paul to screw with the GOP.