You Can’t Nader McCain, But Can You Barr Him?
Third party candidates may be making inroads into Congressional and state political races, which could affect the outcome of this year’s presidential election, according to a new report from the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.
While third-party candidates haven’t come close to occupying the Oval Office, they are having some success at the polls, playing "king maker" in 10 gubernatorial races and seven U.S. Senate races between 1998 and 2006. A king maker, according to the study, is a third party candidate who won more votes than the margin of victory — think of Ralph Nader in 2000, then a Green Party candidate, when he chalked up 97,488 votes in the Florida contest that was decided by 537 votes. The king maker party is always ideologically related to the major party that lost, so, Nader can’t say Nader Sen. John McCain. But will Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party nominee, Nader McCain? That’s the question in some tight states in the 2008 presidential election. From the report:
In 7 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races in 2006, 2 percent or more of voters cast their ballots for the Libertarian Party, which has picked up the banner of small government. Similar vote totals by a Libertarian presidential candidate could be enough to flip the race to Obama in several states by draining away voters who would otherwise end up casting their ballot for McCain. Some polling already shows Barr drawing support in certain states (like his home state of Georgia) that diminishes McCain’s vote share.
A recent nationwide poll by CNN showed Barr with 3 percent of the popular vote, though CNN polling director Keating Holland said early surveys often overstate actual election day support of third-party candidates. Holland said third party candidates historically only end up with about half the support in November as shown in the summer prior to the election. Still, McCain probably isn’t looking to lose out on 1.5 percent of the vote.