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Libertarian (and Ex-Republican) Bob Barr Polling at 6% in North Carolina:

Public Policy Polling reports:

Barr receives 6% of the vote in possible match ups [in North Carolina] with both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. Obama trails John McCain 43-40, while Clinton trails him 39-34.

Barr's strength is with independent voters, with whom he pulls 9-12%. PPP's previous North Carolina survey had found voters describing themselves as independents strongly inclined toward McCain....

"It's a long way until the election but the early indication is that Bob Barr's presence on the ballot could be a good sign for whoever ends up as the Democratic nominee," said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. "He's likely to siphon off more voters who would otherwise be inclined to vote for McCain than he is from Clinton or Obama."

PPP surveyed 543 likely voters on May 28th and 29th. The survey's margin of error is +/- 4.2%. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.

I should stress that "it's a long way until the election" part, since much depends on what the candidates (and especially McCain) say and do to woo the Bob Barr voters. And it's one thing to say you'll vote for a candidate who's sure not to win, and another thing to actually do it: To my knowledge, there's solid evidence that many voters prefer to vote for the winner, precisely because they like the feeling of having backed a winner, and voting for Barr is a sure way of not voting for the winner. I should also stress that the really interesting question is how Barr will poll in battleground states, which I expect North Carolina probably won't be, despite the relatively modest margin in McCain's favor compared to Obama or Clinton. (Note that North Carolina has voted Republican in every election since 1980.) Still, 6% is pretty high for a Libertarian candidate, so it struck me as worth mentioning.

None of this, by the way, is meant as an endorsement or criticism of Barr (note that I'm backing McCain myself), as an endorsement or criticism of the desire to vote for a winner, or as an endorsement or criticism of anything else; I'm just reporting on a poll that seemed surprising to me.

rbj:
To my knowledge, there's solid evidence that many voters prefer to vote for the winner, precisely because they like the feeling of having backed a winner,


So why has Hillary been winning primaries of late when Barack seems to have the nomination sewn up. I seriously doubt that Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" is the cause of that, especially in Puerto Rico.

Generally I agree that most people want to back the winner, but this instance seems to test that rule.
6.2.2008 4:22pm
JB:
Because "many" doesn't mean "most."
6.2.2008 4:31pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I believe it's appropriate at this point to call for the Republicans to withdraw from the race so as not to siphon votes away from Barr.
6.2.2008 4:46pm
KeithK (mail):
This year's Democratic primary race has been anomalous in that there hasn't been significant "momentum" (in other words, switching to the likely winner). In general you could have picked the results of primaries in April and May based on the results and demographics of the early primaries. Obama supporters (individual and group) have tended to stay Obama supporters while Clinton supporters have tended to stay with her.

This doesn't usually happen.
6.2.2008 4:54pm
tarheel:
Worth noting that Huckabee got 25% of the Republican primary vote in NC, even though he hadn't been in the race for many weeks. May just be that NC Republicans are not big McCain fans (and I suspect, but don't know, that immigration is the issue).
6.2.2008 4:57pm
Ben P (mail):

Worth noting that Huckabee got 25% of the Republican primary vote in NC, even though he hadn't been in the race for many weeks. May just be that NC Republicans are not big McCain fans (and I suspect, but don't know, that immigration is the issue).


I think that's different though.

The statement that people prefer to vote for a winner presumes they were undecided at some point, and given a choice will vote for the likely winner.

The late primary votes for Huckabee and Paul I think are psychologically quite different. They're registering their displeasure with the candidate that's already won. It may simply be because they really really like those candidates, I think it's more of a protest vote however. They really don't like McCain, and they're voting against him.
6.2.2008 5:03pm
Terrivus:
Anyone who would vote for Barr over McCain in the general election should take an informal poll of anyone in a battleground state who voted for Nader over Gore in 2000, on the theory that it "didn't matter" whether Bush or Gore became president and they were going to vote their conscience.

Ask them whether, in retrospect, gee, maybe they would have preferred to have voted for Gore. I think you'll find a 100% affirmative response.

And as for those libertarians who think Obama would do more for their policies than McCain... delusion, my friends. Short-sighted, tunnel-vision delusion.
6.2.2008 5:11pm
Mark F. (mail):
And as for those libertarians who think Obama would do more for their policies than McCain... delusion, my friends. Short-sighted, tunnel-vision delusion

Maybe not, but Obama doesn't support a failed war criminal president and has expressed some support for the idea the the President's power should be limited. Plus, there's little downside to voting the current crooked corrupt and unprincipled party out of power.
6.2.2008 5:23pm
tarheel:

They're registering their displeasure with the candidate that's already won. It may simply be because they really really like those candidates, I think it's more of a protest vote however. They really don't like McCain, and they're voting against him.

I may have been unclear in my comment. I 100% agree with you that the Huckabee vote was mostly a protest against McCain (with some small measure of Christian right affinity thrown in for good measure). I suspect the Barr numbers can be similarly explained.
6.2.2008 5:34pm
ithaqua (mail):
"Maybe not, but Obama doesn't support a failed war criminal president"

Better a 'war criminal' on America's side than a honest and upright warrior on the enemy's.

"and has expressed some support for the idea the the President's power should be limited."

lol

"Plus, there's little downside to voting the current crooked corrupt and unprincipled party out of power."

Except that their replacements are crooked, corrupt, unprincipled, and also child-killing traitors, no, no downside :)

"Anyone who would vote for Barr over McCain in the general election should take an informal poll of anyone in a battleground state who voted for Nader over Gore in 2000, on the theory that it "didn't matter" whether Bush or Gore became president and they were going to vote their conscience.

Ask them whether, in retrospect, gee, maybe they would have preferred to have voted for Gore. I think you'll find a 100% affirmative response."

Yeah, I've been struggling with that myself. Intellectually, I know that Barr can't win, but could swing a close election to Obama, and I know that a President Hussein could - literally - destroy America. Emotionally, though, Barr appeals to me, as a stalwart social conservative with a strong pro-God, pro-family record in a party that, no matter how loathsome it is on social issues, is known for its economic realism; he seems to be the best of both worlds. And if I'm still having trouble to convince myself to vote for McRINO, imagine how low-information North Carolina voters, not realizing the full extent of Democrat odiousness, feel...

I blame McCain. He should have dropped out and endorsed Huckabee or Tancredo, as the closest things we had to genuinely conservative Republicans. But the big-money donors (who have interests and connections in both parties), imagining that Bush was toxic (he's actually one of the most popular (as well as successful) presidents since Hoover) turned to McRINO instead, and the results are obvious. Sigh.
6.2.2008 5:37pm
tarheel:
The NC Republican delegation has been quite vocal on the immigration issue, which may be hurting McCain too. Dole has made it the centerpiece of her Senate campaign, and Reps. Sue Myrick and Virginia Foxx have been pretty outspoken too.

Of course, Dole is only up a few points on a total unknown, so who knows what is going on in my fair state.
6.2.2008 5:39pm
Thoughtful (mail):
tarheel says: "I 100% agree with you that the Huckabee vote was mostly a protest against McCain (with some small measure of Christian right affinity thrown in for good measure). I suspect the Barr numbers can be similarly explained."

Granted, but the interesting question is why is the protest vote for the LP candidate now 6% when in the past it has been 1% or less. Is it merely Barr's better name recognition, or is it that combined with a true disgust at the choice between the offered Republican and Democratic candidates? I think the latter.
6.2.2008 6:40pm
tarheel:

Is it merely Barr's better name recognition, or is it that combined with a true disgust at the choice between the offered Republican and Democratic candidates?

Good question. I don't know how much name recognition Bob Barr really has. Worth noting that Mike Munger, Libertarian candidate for governor, is polling at 4%.
6.2.2008 6:53pm
Paul B:
Anyone here who thinks that the Libertarian candidate for President will get more than 1% of the vote in North Carolina come November needs to be drug tested.
6.2.2008 8:43pm
Gaius Marius:
If Hillary Clinton had any cajones, she would run for POTUS as an independent in the general election. The electorate would divide along age, racial, and gender lines like in no other prior election.
6.2.2008 9:58pm
AK (mail):
"most people want to back the winner"

It's a bit counterintuitive, but one of the most amazing quirks of a democratic system is that most people back the winner.

I know, it's hard to believe.
6.2.2008 11:42pm
Stormy Dragon (mail) (www):
Anyone who would vote for Barr over McCain in the general election should take an informal poll of anyone in a battleground state who voted for Nader over Gore in 2000, on the theory that it "didn't matter" whether Bush or Gore became president and they were going to vote their conscience.
If the my voting for Barr ends up costing McCain the election, it will be like an early Christmas for me.
6.3.2008 2:57pm