The idea that antiwar voters who support Barr might have backed Obama seems plausible at first glance, until you actually pay attention to who Barr’s likely voters are. They are, so far as I can tell, independent conservatives and libertarians who supported Paul, plus the regular Libertarians, who find McCain unacceptable on a wide range of issues that also prevents them from supporting Obama. You can include me in that group. Such is the strange nature of this election that this fairly consistent position strikes the Obama-supporting conservatives and libertarians as inexplicable and grounds for harsh criticism.
It’s true that Paul voters were never going to go for McCain, and many of them seem to be supporting Obama, but they continue to support Obama even now despite the emergence of Barr’s candidacy. (Strange exit poll fact of the day: McCain voters in the primaries were more likely to view Ron Paul favourably than the supporters of any other candidate besides, of course, Paul.) Those who have chosen to go for Barr anyway, despite the existence of a “credible” major party antiwar candidacy, are as irreconcilably against Obama as they are against McCain, albeit perhaps for some different reasons. The Paul voters who have turned to Obama do this on the assumption that they will achieve the same antiwar goals that Barr espouses but will never be able to implement (“barring” a rather unusual change in voting patterns). These tend to be the Paul supporters who are also not interested in the other things that Barr emphasises, particularly with regard to immigration, and who were probably less likely to find McCain’s views on immigration very troubling. Thus it doesn’t bother them that Obama is to the left of Clinton and McCain on immigration.
Obama’s biggest potential problem among his Republican supporters remains moderate Republicans, who are exactly the sort of “soft” or independent Republicans whom Obama should be able to peel away under normal circumstances, but whom McCain appeals to for reasons that continue to escape me. Single-issue antiwar voters who back Obama will not be pulled away by Barr for two reasons: Barr is not running a purely antiwar campaign, but a comprehensive small government, conservative-libertarian campaign, and they believe that Obama can actually end the war, which is their top priority (that’s why they are single-issue voters). As I have said before, though, this microscopic analysis of Obama’s Republican and right-wing supporters will probably matter very little to the final outcome, because McCain continues to pull away more Democrats from Obama than he loses among Republicans.