Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bob Barr Through the Lens of the Zogby Polls

Yesterday's look at the electoral college map following the inclusion of the polling data from Zogby generated a good amount of chatter concerning the wisdom of averaging in internet-based polls. As I said, both in the post and in the comments, these data points may prove to be aberrations, but they have not significantly altered the state of the electoral college map. So, while the Zogby numbers should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt, I don't mind including them in FHQ's weighted average.

Having said that, let's use the information gleaned from the Zogby polls to open up a discussion about Bob Barr's presence in the presidential race as the Libertarian candidate. First let's revisit the table from yesterday's post and include the Barr numbers in each of the 34 states polled.

New Polls w/Barr (July 6-9)*
AlabamaZogby Interactive+114
ArizonaZogby Interactive+37
ArkansasZogby Interactive+24
CaliforniaZogby Interactive+205
ColoradoZogby Interactive+28
ConnecticutZogby Interactive+165
FloridaZogby Interactive+46
GeorgiaZogby Interactive+68
IllinoisZogby Interactive+205
IndianaZogby Interactive+17
IowaZogby Interactive+48
KentuckyZogby Interactive+53
LouisianaZogby Interactive+74
MarylandZogby Interactive+246
MassachusettsZogby Interactive+255
MichiganZogby Interactive+146
MinnesotaZogby Interactive+168
MissouriZogby Interactive+26
NevadaZogby Interactive 09
New HampshireZogby Interactive+310
New JerseyZogby Interactive+133
New MexicoZogby Interactive+169
New YorkZogby Interactive+214
North CarolinaZogby Interactive+94
OhioZogby Interactive+57
OklahomaZogby Interactive+59
OregonZogby Interactive+166
PennsylvaniaZogby Interactive+105
South CarolinaZogby Interactive+16
TennesseeZogby Interactive+57
TexasZogby Interactive+36
VirginiaZogby Interactive+55
WashingtonZogby Interactive+135
WisconsinZogby Interactive+104
*All polls from Zogby International. Follow link and click state for poll data.

Across all 34 states, Barr averages exactly 6%. [Just for fun, I drew the median and mode from the data as well. The median was also 6% while both 5 and 6 were the most frequently occurring values; each showing up in the data seven times.] What do we see (and where do we see it) above the midpoint of 6? Though we may discount the Zogby numbers, it still may be beneficial to examine the Barr patterns we see in this data just as a crude baseline of comparison. [That baseline may need to be tweaked moving forward as we here at FHQ begin to take notice of his numbers in other polls.] Here are the states where Barr received more than 6% support in the recent round of Zogby Interactive polls:

New Hampshire
New Mexico

Once the first one on the list (Arizona) and the last two (Oklahoma and Tennessee) are removed, what's left is a fairly centralized group of states. Arizona, though it has been trending ever so slightly in Obama's direction lately, just isn't going to happen for the Illinois senator (and if it does, we are looking at a substantial victory for Obama and the Democrats). Similarly, both the Sooner and Volunteer states are too far gone (even at this point) to go any way other than for McCain. The other nine states, though, are among the two regions we have been discussing as toss up states. On the one hand, you have the western group of states, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. And on the other, there are the midwestern states of Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio. Once you throw in ever-independent New Hampshire and Barr's home state of Georgia, you have a pretty interesting group of states. So if you're the McCain campaign, and if these polls provide an indication of where Barr is doing well (even if overstated), you cannot be too terribly encouraged about Barr polling well in swing states. As I said about Colorado and Iowa specifically yesterday (and can be broadened to include these other seven states), Barr's success directly and negatively affects McCain's ability to compete with Obama in many of these states. Barr takes enough Republican support away from McCain in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada and Ohio to bring Obama to within varying levels of striking distance (Georgia is the only state among these not considered a toss up right now by FHQ.). And in Iowa and Minnesota, two states often mentioned as toss ups, Barr potentially eats into McCain's support enough to provide Obama with a comfortable lead.

Even if Barr's support is exaggerated in these polls, if they are anywhere close to being indications of where the former Georgia congressman is performing well, then McCain may very well find it extremely difficult to cobble together enough states to add up to 270 electoral votes. One thing is for sure, I'll be keeping an eye on how Barr is doing in these and other swing states to get a sense of how (and how much) he may be affecting the race between McCain and Obama.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (7/9/08) [Update]

Polling Alert

Jesse Helms and the Current American Political Climate


Jack said...

The Barr numbers in the table aren't showing for me - I just see the Obama/McCain margins.

Actually, both the table for this one and the previous one are getting cut off on the right. In the previous one, the word 'Margin' is cut off to 'Mar' and in both, the text at the bottom is cut off.

Josh Putnam said...

Thanks for the heads up, Jack. I'll see what I can do to resize those and fit everything in.

Jack said...

Looks great now.

Josh Putnam said...

Good. Glad that worked. For aesthetic purposes I spread these tables out a bit more since they were so many polls. But something is lost in translation between what I get in the blogger editor and what it spits out when I post. Note to self: don't do that again.

Jack said...

Okay, I know this is a bit off topic, but ... Kentucky has eight electoral votes.

The map shows six.

Josh Putnam said...

Well, I'm lucky anyone is even reading this site anymore. I'm going to get my eyes checked because I apparently had real issue in transferring the numbers from the original map Paul Gurian allowed me to use and the actual numbers.

Now I have something to do in the morning.

Seriously though, thanks for the alert.

Jack said...

I checked all the states against a seperate site, so I can assure you the rest of the states are right.

Josh Putnam said...

Good. That was on my To Do list as well.

Robert said...

With respect to the Barr numbers (and Nader mentioned earlier), it seems to me that for Republicans who are still suspicious of McCain Barr is a convenient spot to park. It also sends a message to McCain that he can't count on his base if he steers too close to the center. Likewise, Nader is a convenient place for Democrats to park, particularly for Clintonians, who are not ready to embrace Obama and want to tell him that he can't take their votes for granted. How many votes Barr and Nader will get depends on the level of disgust with their own party's candidate relative to the fear that the other party's candidate might win. If both Barr and Nader can hold on to about 10%, we will probably have another President with less than 50% of the total popular vote.

Josh Putnam said...

Alright Kentucky is fixed. I must have transposed the Kansas and Kentucky numbers when I was putting the new font on the map. That still doesn't explain Idaho.

Josh Putnam said...

I think that 10% may prove difficult for Barr/Nader. This is unscientific, but from what I've seen, I'd place Barr's average share of support in the polls (minus this current Zogby data) at about 3 or 4% and Nader's at about 1 to 2%.

Honestly, I hadn't thought about Clinton voters defecting to Nader. I've been blinded by all the "Clinton voters going with McCain" talk of late. I suppose either way you look at it, it is a protest vote that ultimately benefits the Arizona senator (just to differing degrees and with differing returns on the action).

George Phillies said...

Great work on the tables! Very interesting!

The needed numbers, to show what Nader and Barr (and Baldwin and McKinney) are doing, are -- as you correctly point out -- the comparatives, the preferences with and without them in the race.

A conventional Libertarian, one who opposes all of DOMA, wants to end the war on drugs, and wants to get out of Iraq immediately, will draw equally from left and right.

Robert said...


I just can't believe that there are many Clinton Democrats who will vote for McCain when it becomes clear that he would never appoint anybody near as liberal as Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. I also can't beleive that there are many true-believer-Republican women, other than Ann Coulter, who would have seriously considered voting for Clinton over McCain but now will choose McCain over Obama.


I also have a hard time believing that left-wing anti-war types would vote for the Libertarian Barr rather than vote for the anti-business Nader. If Barr is to gain substantial votes, it will be from Libertarian-leaning Republicans and not Socialist-leaning Democrats. Another Libertarian might be able to attract disaffected Democrats, but not Bob Barr. Bob Barr has credibility as a fiscal Libertarian but not as an anti-war one. Many Democrats loved Ron Paul for his anti-war stance but recoiled when he brought up other parts of the dogma.

Josh Putnam said...

Despite what polls have shown, I haven't thought and don't think those Clinton folks will opt for McCain in the end either. I was always a bit skeptical of that. My point was that all the talk in the media (I know, bad blogger.) had been about their only option being McCain (so much so that I hadn't even considered Nader as a possibility). But I still see the majority of those folks coming toward Obama come November.

Hey, how have the discussion group meetings been going? Only one more absence for me and I'll be back. My discussions on the road have been confined to what comes up here and the usual talking points I cover with various family members.

Robert said...


I have not been there in two weeks and will not be there Tuesday. I hope to make it back after that.