Was Barr a ’spoiler’ in North Carolina?

The Raleigh News & Observer writes a wrapup on the presidential campaign in North Carolina and concludes:

Barr was a spoiler in North Carolina after all.

Though the Libertarian presidential candidate made only token appearances in the state and received a minuscule number of votes in November, he still got more votes than the margin of difference between Obama and McCain.

The News & Observer adds:

That puts Barr into elite company in North Carolina: Only five third-party presidential candidates earned enough votes to affect the outcome in North Carolina since 1908.

They are: George Wallace in 1968, Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, Ross Perot in 1992 and in 1996 and John Anderson in 1980. (Technically, Roosevelt did not earn more than the margin of Woodrow Wilson’s win, but he came in second, so we count him.)

Not everyone agrees that it’s that simple, however. Doug Mataconis writes in Below the Beltway:

Of course, claims like this are always difficult to prove, because it would essentially require assuming that at least 55% (14,193) of the 25,722 people who voted for Barr would have voted for McCain instead had Barr not been on the ballot.

Quite honestly, there’s no reason to believe that this is the case. More likely than not, people who were inclined to vote for Barr to begin with had already given up on both of the major party candidates and, if they were generally Republican leaning voters, then they’d given up on McCain. It’s more likely that they would have voted for another third-party candidate, or not voted for President at all.

2 Responses to “Was Barr a ’spoiler’ in North Carolina?”

  1. Michael Says:

    Barr also won enough votes to take Indiana from McCain and Nader won enough votes to do the same in Missouri.

  2. disinter Says:

    Was barf a spoiler for the LP in general? Yes.

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