Friday, June 20, 2008

Novak and Carney: "McCain's Libertarian problem"


From this week's Evans-Novak Political Report:

The key question on the libertarian side of the ledger will be the strength of former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, the Libertarian nominee. ... Barr sees his strongest region being the Mountain West, where Nevada and Colorado sit on the edge of the McCain-Obama battle. Barr could tip those states in Obama's direction if he gets just 2 percent. ... The fear of Barr swinging his home state Georgia to the Obama column is overblown.


Actually, Nevada and Colorado could swing on less than 2%. They're just that close now.

A strong libertarian campaign -- especially one with a Nevadan on the ticket -- focusing on two issues that have particularly vexed Bob Barr could easily make the difference.

Same-sex marriage: Both states have incorporated marriage apartheid into their constitutions in the 21st century (Nevada with 2002's Question 2 and Colorado with 2006's Amendment 43). However, significant portions of Nevadans (33%) and Coloradoans (44%) opposed those measures.

Marijuana, medical and otherwise: Both states allow medical marijuana. Significant portions of Nevadans (44%) and Coloradoans (40%) voted for broader legalization in 2006.

If Barr is interested in seizing the balance of power in Colorado and Nevada, he might do well to come out strong on these issues -- and ditch the Dixiecrat-style "states rights" reservations he's previously attached to them. What works in "the Solid South" doesn't necessarily work out west.

It's a safe bet that at least 2% of Colorado and Nevada voters:

a) support marriage equality;

b) support cannabis legalization;

c) consider both issues important; and

d) fit into the "true conservative" demographic that Barr (like Ron Paul before him) has geared his to appeal to so far.

I have to disagree with Novak and Carney on Georgia. Although most polls have shown McCain well ahead in that state, the latest InsiderAdvantage/PollPosition poll [PDF] has them in a virtual dead heat ... with Barr's share covering the spread ten times over!

That poll may be an outlier or it may indicate the start of a lasting trend, but let's be honest here: The outcome in Georgia probably hinges on black voter turnout, and Barr has a tough row to hoe there. The most interesting crosstab on the poll above is that Barr's support among black voters (Georgia's population is 30% African-American) is statistically insignificant (it registers as 0.0% in the poll).

I'm not sure he can do anything about that ... but the things he might do are the right things to do anyway (apologize for consorting with, and repudiate, the white separatist "Council of Conservative Citizens," concentrate on the drug war, throw the "states rights" nonsense overboard, etc.).

My bet is that Georgia's going to be a close state this time. It will probably come down to how well the Democrats do their job of getting African-American voters to the polls for Obama ... and quite possibly to whether or not Barr can hold his ground and maybe even take some more ground between now and November.

- Cross-posted at Independent Political Report

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