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Why Bob Barr could matter

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

The Ohio Libertarian Party has won — and that might have an effect on Ohio’s presidential election.

A federal judge has ordered Ohio to put the Libertarian Party’s candidates on the ballot this fall, and to list them as Libertarians. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner decided to accept the ruling rather than appeal it. It will be the first time in Ohio since 2000 that any party other than Democrats or Republicans are listed on the presidential ballot.

So, if you are among the 99 percent of the voters who aren’t Libertarians, why should you care?

As I noted Tuesday, the latest poll shows John McCain with a modest lead over Barack Obama in Ohio. (As a critic of mine in the reader comments section pointed out, earlier polls showed Obama with a slight lead.) At this point, the fight for who wins Ohio’s Electoral College votes appears to be close.

 It’s been suggested that if the race is close, and if the Libertarians run a good campaign, the Libertarians could have an effect on the presidential election, in Ohio and in other states. Those are big ifs, but the Libertarian presidential candidate this year, a former Republican congressman named Bob Barr, is an experienced politician. He’s running a more professional campaign than past Libertarian nominees.

Conventional wisdom holds that a successful Barr campaign would draw most of its votes away from McCain. Libertarians, of course, say they are running on their own merits.

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