Yesterday the Politico's Glenn Thrush ran a slow news day package of "seven worrisome signs" for the Democratic candidate. This one stood out.
Where have you gone, Ross Perot? Bill Clinton, the lone two-term Democratic president since FDR, wouldn't have been elected if independent Ross Perot hadn't siphoned 19 percent of the vote in 1992. Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, staging an indie bid from McCain's right, has little cash and doesn't seem to be a factor in competitive states.
It's true, Barr has little cash (and isn't picking your pocket to change that, a la Ralph Nader). Republicans aren't worried enough about him to challenge his ballot access, according to Ben Adler's reporting. But it's still an ominous sign for Republicans that the only third party candidate anyone's paying attention to is a former Republican who's running expliclity against the Bush years. According to some polls, he is a factor in western and southern swing states. He'll likely be the only third party candidate on the Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia ballots. The Libertarian and Ron Paul organizations are unusually strong in Colorado, Montana, and North Dakota—all swing states this year. And, of course, Barr's running mate Wayne Allyn Root is attacking the airwaves from his Las Vegas estate, writing op-eds, doing national and local radio, trying to turn soft conservative votes into protest votes. "I was booked 10 days ago on FNC on Cavuto but got pre-empted by the L.A. earthquake," Root told me, after he'd wrapped up interviews with Salt Lake City and Park City TV shows. "They promised to rebook in next few days. I continue to do several radio interviews across the USA most days."
So far Barr isn't taking off the way Ralph Nader did in 2000, when he raised millions of dollars and changed the electoral map. But a so-far-middling Barr campaign is making a few points worth of difference in at least seven states (the ones I've mentioned and Alaska.)
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.