Libertarian Bob Barr could be putting Georgia in presidential play for the first time in decades, as a brand new Georgia state poll has him grabbing upwards of 6 percent in the November contest against Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, who get 44 percent and 43 percent respectively — just one percent apart moving into the last five months of the election!
These promising numbers for the hometown son – he had been polled by Insider Advantage before back in May at 8 percent (with Obama 10 points behind McCain) – are a potential disaster for McCain, who, according to reports is suffering from serious Conservative Base Dysfunction, and is also contending with an ambitious voter registration drive by the Obama campaign within the abundant black community there.
Depending on whom you are talking to, Insider Advantage head Matt Towery is the deliverer of stink bombs or roses in the polling industry. As one Georgia pundit told me, his operation has been “right as much as it’s been wrong.” But there is no denying his passion for southern politics. He worked with Newt Gingrich when he headed the National Republican Convention in the 1996 election, and seems to see things the way they are (none too good for the GOP this year), and is really jumping over the “Barr Effect.”
“I think I can tell you, not just because I live here (he and his polling operation hail from Georgia),” he told me Wednesday, “I am convinced that Georgia is THE swing state of this political race. It appears to me, with the amount of money (Democrats) have, it will be a very, very close situation.”
He anticipates that if Obama’s registration drive is at all successful, Georgia could see its African American vote jump from 22 percent to 25 to 26 percent on Election Day.
A friend and former colleague of mine, Bill Greene, a Republican conservative activist in Georgia who has been selected as an alternative delegate to the national convention, is leading a force of Ron Paul supporters to make a big noise and help force a vote for Paul for Vice President on the floor of the convention (check www.delegatesforronpaul.com). He agrees Georgia is in play more than any time in recent memory.
“One of those reasons is Bob Barr, he is a favorite son and people do remember him and most people remember him favorably,” Greene told me Thursday. However, he notes the serious lack of enthusiasm – if not downright distrust and dislike – Deep Red conservatives like himself have for McCain.
“They remember what he’s said and what he’s done in the past, not what he’s said or done recently,” he said. “They remember him for McCain-Feingold, McCain-Lieberman – all those bills that have the McCain name on it, but were just liberal values legislation. I think all these factors (Obama GOTV, Barr Factor potential) could put Georgia in play this year.”
As Paul recently said some nice things about Barr, and Barr recently reported to a seemingly annoyed Neil Cavuto, the Libertarian Party hopes to get on 49, if not 50 state ballots. The Barr Factor, could be the real thing, if Paul’s supporters back him in the general, particularly in swing states where the margins are expected to be fairly close – like Virginia, Colorado, even New Hampshire.