The Science of Spoilerage

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Michael Goldfarb counterintuitively argues that Bob Barr will hurt Obama.

Ron Paul voters would seem to be the irreconcilables of the Republican party. They aren't going to vote McCain no matter what, but they might have voted Obama to punish their party and force a withdrawal from Iraq. If Andrew Sullivan is any indicator, supporting Ron Paul and Barack Obama are not mutually exclusive.

Look, I love Andrew Sullivan, too, but using him as a demographic indicator is like using a black swan to make a point about water fowl. Ron Paul's coalition had three main sectors: anti-war leftists, Bob Taft conservatives, and unreconcilable political outcasts. The anti-war leftists will move over to Obama. You can guess what will happen to the unreconcilables. The Taft types will be extremely gettable for Bob Barr, who will be building a coalition that won't look exactly like Paul's.

Where does a lot Barr's potential base come from? Embittered white conservatives who will not vote for McCain but could never vote for Obama. Some of these people are racists (or people who put too much faith in the e-mails their cousins forward them); most, hopefully, will be talk radio listeners who consider McCain a quisling on immigration, taxes, free speech, etc and etc. They've spent the primaries casting protest votes for Paul or Huckabee, or putting on Operation Chaos fatigues and voting for Clinton. I'm a huge skeptic about the salience of the immigration issue, but with a Republican base this depressed and angry, immigration can be effective wedge for Barr. He doesn't have to finesse his position very much to attack the guy talk radio calls "Juan Amnesty McCain."

The effect this will have on the election, of course, isn't just a zero-sum vote-for-vote effect. It has the potential to box in McCain the way Ralph Nader boxed in Al Gore. How much can McCain brag about his immigration reform cred in public, to Hispanic voters, without Barr rallying the talk radio vote? How much time or money does Barr make McCain waste in a gimme state like Georgia or Alaska, the way Nader made Gore waste time in Oregon and Minnesota? Republicans are avidly hoping that Paul does not rent his donor list to Barr (or Chuck Baldwin) because they see the potential here.

(Obviously, the calculus changes a little if the LP nominates Root, or a left-libertarian like Gravel or Ruwart.)

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  1. Barr still has to get the nomination doesn’t he?

    The Republicans won’t have to worry about Root or Gravel.

  2. What are the odds right now that Barr will get the nod?

  3. I’d say 50 percent chance of Barr, 25 percent for Root, 20 percent for Ruwart, 5 percent for anyone else. The media blitz is really aiding Barr.

  4. Look, I love Andrew Sullivan, but using him as a demographic indicator is like using a black swan to make a point about water foul.

    You mean like “Some isolated populations of waterfowl may have marked variations in coloration relative to the norm for the species”? Cause I think you could make that point using the black swan as an example. Indeed, if you add a white squirrel, you can expand that not only to other fowl, but to the whole of classes Aves and Mammalia.

    Also, I don’t feel leftist.

  5. Neil, who was hotter, Heather Thomas from The Fall Guy or Heather Locklear from T. J. Hooker? Note that there is only one acceptable answer to this question.

  6. Good analysis about Paul’s voters, but why assume that Barr’s pull on Republicans would be limited to Paul voters?

    Various stripes of anti-McCain conservatives had plenty of other conservative candidates to vote for in the primaries.

  7. Various stripes of anti-McCain conservatives had plenty of other conservative candidates to vote for in the primaries.

    Uh, that’s my point. Those voters, along with conservative independents and Democrats who hate Obama, are gettable for Barr.

  8. I don’t buy that anti-war leftists made up a significant portion of Paul supporters. Anti-war leftists were voting in the dem primaries. Anti-war, fiscal conservatives and small government types are NOT leftists.

  9. Dang, almost got to use my favorite Ann Coulter quote*, but it does not quite work here. Have to use mine “just because it is counterintuitive does not mean it’s right.” Nice catch, David.

    *”Just because it is not counterintuitive does not make it wrong.”

  10. I don’t think it matters too much at this point who gets the nomination. The GOP is hemorrhaging voters. It doesn’t matter if they go to Paul, Barr, or Obama because either way they are not going to vote for McCain. The lack of fiscal conservatism for the last 8 years has turned a lot of people off to the party completely.

  11. Can Barr get the Huckabee vote?

    I dont see Barr attracting many of the evangelicals.

  12. Hemmoraging voters? McCain is tied with Obama.

    Tied!

  13. Look, I love Andrew Sullivan, too, but using him as a demographic indicator is like using a black swan to make a point about water foul.

    Certainly, the fowlest analogy I’ve seen.

  14. Heather Thomas was much hotter than cute and Heather Locklear was much cuter than hot.

  15. Not Neil–

    I’m sorry but I believe the reverse to be true.

  16. Neil: Considering McCain’s appeal to independents and moderates you would think that he would have a large lead. I’d assume that the numbers he is making don’t include the small government-types that normally would have voted GOP but are now looking at other candidates.

  17. Bingo tell me whats so “small government” about Obama.

  18. Did you know that my abilities to overcome cognitive dissonance are unmatched by any other living thing on this planet?

  19. That was not me above.

    Remember folks: Obama is relying on the two most unreliable types of voters: the young and blacks. The only reliable block in his coalition that will turn out will be federal government workers sucking off the big government tit.

  20. Heather Thomas was much hotter than cute and Heather Locklear was much cuter than hot.

    This is an acceptable answer.

    I’m sorry but I believe the reverse to be true.

    This is not, Neil. What’s wrong? You blew the Scritti Politti question from yesterday, and now this?

  21. That was not me above.

    We know. The spelling and punctuation were correct.

  22. Joe maybe you can tell us how reliable young college voters are.

    They’ll say they’re going to the polls, and on election day hit the bong and down a bag of cheetos instead.

  23. “Obviously, the calculus changes a little if the LP nominates Root ….”

    Come on, dude! If the LP nominates Root, the whole world changes! It’s a totally different f*cking reality if Root’s the nominee! Wake up! Wake the f*ck up!

  24. More reliable than your predictions to date, Reverend Wrong.

    Believe it or not, this isn’t actually a thread about Barack Obama.

  25. Neil: Well he does promise to bring some transparency to the table, even while implementing a lot of socialist policies. Maybe once people get a clear view of the inner workings of government they might have second thoughts about the consequences of all the pork.

    Anyways, you completely ignored my point. Since McCain actually does appeal to a lot of moderates and independents his lead would be much larger if he hadn’t completely alienated the small government faction of the GOP.

  26. is like using a black swan to make a point about water foul

    Is David just being poetic here and saying that if you see a black swan you know the water was dirty, or does he, perchance, mean “water fowl”? It seems only Abdul noticed the strange formulation here.

  27. LOL nothing says “transparency” like a background in corrupt Chicagoland politics hanging out with characters like Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers, Richard Daley Jr., and Reverend Wright.

  28. NEIL, YOU FOOL OF GREAT FOLLY, ARE YOU INSANE? THEY JUST STARE AT THE URKOBOLD, HYPNOTIZING HIM. . . .

  29. We cannot allow HUSSEIN to run this country.

  30. Is David just being poetic here and saying that if you see a black swan you know the water was dirty,

    That is the charitable version I was going with, until he fixed it.

  31. I made a homonym error. Thanks for the reminders – I would have left the error up otherwsie.

  32. DW,

    I liked it better the old way. Oh well, I will have to find a new favorite poet 🙂

  33. Republicans are avidly hoping that Paul does not rent his donor list to Barr

    Based on my inbox, I’m pretty sure that ship has sailed. I can’t think of where else Barr’s campaign would have gotten mine.

  34. Weighing in on the Heather Locklear vs. Heather Thomas controversy racking this thread:

    Heather Locklear is cuter than hot.

    Heather Thomas is hotter than cute.

    I’d say Neil failed the Turing test here.

  35. Since McCain actually does appeal to a lot of moderates and independents his lead would be much larger if he hadn’t completely alienated the small government faction of the GOP.

    If McCain had done stuff to appeal to the small government faction of the GOP, the votes he gained by that would be more than offset by his plummeting support among moderates and independents, and someone else would likely be the Republican nominee.

  36. I’d say Neil failed the Turing test here.

    More like the not-gay test.

  37. Obama is relying on the two most unreliable types of voters: the young and blacks. The only reliable block in his coalition that will turn out will be federal government workers sucking off the big government tit.

    Yay! I fit all three categories!
    But about the military vote. Obama has more support than ye might expect from a Dem (the Clinton years brought drawdown and soldiers walking around at NTC with signs that said ‘I’m a Tank’). So even though Dems don’t fund the military like Republicans tend to, many in the military (esp. the Army) are getting sick of deploying for a year every other year into a war with no end in sight.

    Apologies, this isn’t an Obama thread (but it’s like you can’t mention politics without mentioning the guy).

  38. Some of these people are racists (or people who put too much faith in the e-mails their cousins forward them)…

    I think you mean their cousin-spouses.

  39. More like the not-gay test.

    Interestingly, Turing was, of course, gay.

  40. And the visibility of Heather Thomas’ camel toe in that one pic cannot be a product of my perverse imagination.

  41. I know there aren’t that many libertarians/Libertarians, but I wonder how many votes Barr will LOSE from libertarians if he is the nominee.

    I am a ( capital L) Libertarian, and I will not vote for Barr or McCain. If Barr is the nominee, I have about a 90% of not voting at all and maybe 10% for Obama.

  42. Locklear vs Thomas

    Oh the answer is you’re both wrong. Because they’re both really old

    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=kat+deluna+pics&um=1&ie=UTF-8

    Welcome to 2008.

    (How the hell do you make a link like that prolefeed?)

  43. I’d say Neil failed the Turing test here.

    I’d show both Heathers my infinite-length memory tape, if you know what I mean. I’d show them my 3-state busy beaver, nudge nudge. I’d turn them into o-state oracle machines, giggity. I’d show them the Halting Problem in action.

    Ok, enough.

  44. I still don’t see why people still think Ron Paul is going to make a third party run. He made it clear before Barr jumped in, and I doubt he’d split the votes with a high-profile Libertarian (big-L) candidate.

    I’ll bet a large stack of fiat money he’ll pass the torch to Barr, and hopefully, if Barr wins, that money will be worth something.

    Also, I’ll see your pair of Heathers and raise you a Misa Campo

  45. Where’s Reason’s coverage of the Tucker Carlson for the LP nomination rumour?

  46. “Remember folks: Obama is relying on the two most unreliable types of voters: the young and blacks. The only reliable block in his coalition that will turn out will be federal government workers sucking off the big government tit.”

    The only reliable block of voters for McCain are those from the military industrial establishment sucking from the government tit.

  47. I think Barr has the potential to attract many Republicans. This is true because of the unique situation with this year’s Republican Party and its unpopular nominee, John McCain, and the fact that Barr has more name recognition and experience than most other Libertarian candidates (except Gravel, but he’s an 11 on the kook scale for most people).

    However, there are some problems for conservatives who want to support Barr. Barr is not, as far as I can tell, one of these people who is foaming at the mouth about illegals. Remember, alot of the reason McCain turned off core conservatives last year was because of McCain’s position on amnesty. The LP is probably further left than McCain is on that issue, and Barr doesn’t say much about it on his web site.

    However, the cynical side of me suspects that amnesty and drug legalization may be two issues that Barr is trying to straddle both sides of the fence on, hoping to get through the LP convention without people really paying attention to where he is on those issues before coming out with non-libertarian stances on those issues for the general election.

  48. “The lack of fiscal conservatism for the last 8 years has turned a lot of people off to the party completely.”

    Also the public’s wariness of war.

  49. “Can Barr get the Huckabee vote?”

    Not if Huckabee is running for VP under McCain.

  50. “Hemmoraging voters? McCain is tied with Obama.”

    “Tied!”

    It depends on what poll you look at. According to Gallup, it’s a virtual tie when considering the 3 point margin of error, but the Zogby poll has Obama over McCain by 7 points with just a margin of error of 1. Zogby, historically is alot more accurate than Gallop.

  51. “Look, I love Andrew Sullivan, too…”

    Christ, do I feel sorry for you. That guy has singlehandedly given hysterics and hyperbole a bad name.

  52. “It depends on what poll you look at. According to Gallup, it’s a virtual tie when considering the 3 point margin of error, but the Zogby poll has Obama over McCain by 7 points with just a margin of error of 1. Zogby, historically is alot more accurate than Gallop.”

    Firstly, polls six months from an election are worthless. Secondly, you need to do a little more research into poll accuracy. Zogby has been the most inaccurate pollster of the past eight years. His polls have become somewhat of a running joke.

  53. “The only reliable block of voters for McCain are those from the military industrial establishment sucking from the government tit.”

    Christ it never ceases to amaze me how stupid some of the ridiculously-broad generalizations on this site are. Anyone who honestly thinks the above quote is accurate makes joe look like a fucking genius. Go back to reading your Chomsky and sipping your fucking lattes and leave the political commentary to people with more than four brain cells.

  54. Barr will get about as many votes as Ralph Nader got in 2004: next to none.

  55. Christ it never ceases to amaze me how stupid some of the ridiculously-broad generalizations on this site are…Go back to reading your Chomsky and sipping your fucking lattes…

    ha ha

  56. the calculus changes a little if the LP nominates Root, or a left-libertarian like Gravel or Ruwart.)

    yes, it does… from a 50% chance at something resembling relevance to a 100% chance at the usual 0.5% LP “educational” campaign.

  57. “Barr will get about as many votes as Ralph Nader got in 2004: next to none.”

    Polls have shown him getting as much as 4% plus the Libertarian Party will be on the ballot in 48 states.

  58. Not if Huckabee is running for VP under McCain.

    If McCain taps an emptyheaded populist like Huckabee as his running mate, he’s really going to lose old-time conservatives. He’s already got the sociocons in the bag, so he’ll probably choose an ostensibly conservative governor like Sanford or Crist.

  59. so he’ll probably choose an ostensibly conservative governor like Sanford or Crist.

    I think if Crist, the very popular gov of Florida wants it, he’s got it.

  60. Crist would be the smart choice.

    Should just about nail down Florida for the Repubs (I don’t think the wink-and-nod “The old guy’s lost his bearings” cracks are going to go over big there), and force the Dems to fight like dogs for one of those “states in the middle” Obama has so little use for.

  61. I’m not sure McCain has enough theo-con cred to pick someone like Crist as his VP.

    You know.

    A bachelor.

    Not after Foley.

  62. He will chose Sarah Palin or Jim DeMint.

  63. However, the cynical side of me suspects that amnesty and drug legalization may be two issues that Barr is trying to straddle both sides of the fence on…

    Amnesty aside, Barr has been working as a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project for a while now.

    This is like the 20th time I’ve said this. Does anyone do any research before opening their mouths (or iBooks, in this case)?

  64. (How the hell do you make a link like that prolefeed?)

    Type in a left arrow (the thing sharing the comma key) followed by an “a” and a space

    then “href=”

    then the link address

    then a right arrow (the thing sharing the period key) followed by whatever title you want to appear

    then a space, a left arrow followed by “/a” followed by a right arrow.

    To get the pictures, google something after first clicking on the “images” button in the upper left corner.

    Go to chap 4 at Davesite.com

    for a primer on creating these links if what I said doesn’t make sense.

  65. I actually know Heather Thomas. Nuff said.

  66. “He’s already got the sociocons in the bag”

    Are you sure about that?

    McCain Rebuffs Dobson: Will Evangelicals Bolt?

    Sunday, May 18, 2008 6:05 PM

    By: Phil Brennan Article Font Size

    Sen. John McCain’s campaign has so far turned a deaf ear to invitations to meet with politically powerful evangelical leader Dr. James Dobson at his Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., raising the possibility that the nation’s sizable evangelical bloc will sit out the presidential race in November.

    The move would all but assure the election of Sen. Barack Obama, columnist Robert Novak argues in a recent column.

    Noting that Dobson has indicated he can’t support McCain for president, Novak writes that Dobson’s opposition to McCain “reflects continued resistance to the prospective presidential nominee among Christian conservatives who are unhappy with McCain’s current positions on stem-cell research, immigration and global warming, not to mention his past sponsorship of campaign-finance reform.”

    But conservatives are surprised that, despite the differences between McCain and some key conservatives, McCain hasn’t responded to their olive branches and sought meetings.

    As a result of their dissatisfaction, Novak reports that many of Dobson’s followers “are looking beyond 2008 to seek a new leader of the conservative movement for the 2012 election.”

    In another column, Novak questions Mike Huckabee’s announced support of McCain. Though Huckabee has been unequivocal in his backing of McCain, telling Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” Sunday that he thought McCain was his nominee during their primary fight if Huckabee himself could not clinch the nomination, Novak has heard otherwise, citing sources that suggest Huckabee has secretly allied himself with the bitter-end anti-McCain opposition.

    Novak writes that while that seems hardly credible given Huckabee’s very public support of McCain, Huckabee’s critics point out that during 10 years as Arkansas governor, Huckabee proved “all too capable of playing a double game.”

    Novak writes that McCain could not be where he is today had not Huckabee mobilized born-again voters to upset Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses, and that “all efforts by Romney to overtake McCain in conservative Southern state primaries were stifled by Huckabee’s success in those contests.”

    Moreover, even though Huckabee lost no time in endorsing McCain once he clinched the nomination, evangelical community sources dispute the veracity of Huckabee’s support.

    One unidentified source long-active in Christian politics told Novak that many evangelicals have embraced the concept that an Obama presidency “might be what the American people deserve.”

    That, writes Novak, “fits what has largely been a fringe position among evangelicals – that the pain of an Obama presidency is in keeping with the Bible’s prophecy.”

    ? 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

  67. Wow, Brandybuck slept with Heather Thomas? Awesome!

  68. Why do you call Ruwart a “left” libertarian? She’s a pure libertarian, while Barr’s a conservative with a couple newly formed libertarian views, such as opposing (some parts of) the Drug War, ending (after the obligatory timetable) the Iraq War (but having no problem creating more War on South America) and respecting constitutional Rights. I blogged about my preference for Ruwart at my blog, http://dcflow.gaia.com/blog, and invite comments there.

    Ruwart’s website is great too: http://votemary2008.com/. I used her classic, “Healing Our World,” when teaching a civics class in India in 2004. It’s an incredible itemization of the solutions for all our problems. Her environmental solutions need to be memorized for anyone caught in those tough ecological discussions. (It boils down to restitution and property rights).

    Of course, if Barr were to win the LP nomination, I’d be tempted to vote for him, as opposed to not voting at all which is what I’d do if forced to choose between McManiac or Obamination. Ah, who am I kidding – I probably won’t vote.

    Blessings,
    CFroh

  69. One difference I’ve noticed about the people likely to end up voting Barr: most of Nader’s voters in 2000 were horrified that they ended up ruining the election for Gore. I think a lot of Barr’s voters would be ecstatic if they ruined the election for McCain.

  70. Does anyone do any research before opening their mouths (or iBooks, in this case)?

    Are you disparaging Mac owners again?

  71. iBook is shorthand for cosmotarian (or if you prefer, libertrendyan).

  72. I don’t know why fiscal conservatives would have a problem with Republicans now. The GOP has been the deficit party for 40 years. Nixon began the tradition of deficits, Ford made them bigger, Carter shrank it in his single term, then Reagan reversed this trend and made them much bigger. Bush I took a baby step towards perhaps reigning them in a bit and was crucified for it. Clinton, like Carter, reduced the deficit in his first term and got a surplus in his second. Bush quickly restored the deficit but has (so far) been unable to beat Reagan’s record.

    Since Reagan, deficits have been part of the Republican brand. As Cheney says, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter

  73. As a christian conservative I have voted republican since I could first vote in 1984 for Reagan. However, after the last 20 years or so, I’m truly sick of voting for the lesser of 2 evils. I now regret my votes for “W” in 2000 and 2004. These last 8 years have solidified my anger – I will no longer vote for a republican or a democrat. I won’t stay home, but I will cheerfully “throw” my vote to a third party candidate from now on. In fact, I look forward to voting libertarian for the first time in my life no matter who the nominee is.

    Unlike the nader voters in 2000, I will not be shocked at the final results. Even if obama gets into the white house, he couldn’t possibly be any worse than bush 43.

    Mccain cannot depend on the religious right (people like me) to help him win this fall. And without the church, he’s basically toast.

  74. I’d spend a week or two driving around the south and listening to “news”/talk radio if you want to see whether the immigration issue is huge for Republicans right now.

    Executive summary: it is.

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