Saturday, May 24, 2008

LP Convention Weekend: Who's Going to Win?

Well, since Hillary Clinton essentially admitted she's staying in just in case an assassination happens -- again -- and thereby ticked Keith Olbermann off so much that he said, point blank, she was not fit to be President (YouTube here), and thereby all but destroyed her chances at being Obama's VP (which Al Giordano's anonymous sources, in the face of denial by both campaigns, say was already zero)...


... OK, that was going to be a really long sentence. Let's start again.

With the Clinton campaign stumbling, with Clinton superdelegates beginning to defect to Obama, and with a Survey USA poll now showing Obama ahead in Ohio over McCain, the Democratic race is not merely over, it's showing signs of ending its zombie reign of terror.

And, by a strange coincidence, this weekend is the Libertarian Party convention- when the LP nomination fight, among other things, finally ends.

I was going to write an analysis of the various candidates- again- but Phil Weigel at Reason Online already did it. My only significant change is in the order of strength he gave the candidates- and not only will I correct that, but I'll give my own prediction of how the nominations go.

Now, this year the Libertarian Party is enforcing, for the first time, a bit of restriction on its Presidential candidates. The support of fifty delegates is required for a Presidential candidate to be placed into nomination. Based on yesterday's reports from the convention, we can estimate only about 400 delegates today- less than half the almost 900 delegates at the LP convention in 2004. We can, therefore, ignore candidates who won't get more than 10% support from the convention.

My personal estimates of support within the convention:

BOB BARR - 20%

This is actually very rough- I'm just going for multiples of 5 on my estimates. I personally believe that support for Ruwart is stronger than this. I'm also being VERY generous to Mike Gravel- I don't think he'll be able to get on the nomination ballot.

Anyway, since one man's guess is as good as another, I'll stick by these numbers. Going by these, we can presume that Ruwart, Barr, Root, Phillies and Gravel will be the only ones on the ballot tomorrow- certainly the only ones (besides None of the Above) after the first ballot.

Christine Smith and Steve Kubby will both throw their support behind Mary Ruwart. The "all others" support will scatter- and to be simple I'll split it between Ruwart and Barr.

So, the first ballot, I predict, will be:

BOB BARR - 21%

Now, if Ruwart's initial strength is greater than I'm estimating here- and I strongly suspect it is- then she wins on the first ballot, or no later than the second, with disastrous consequences for the LP. (If you didn't read the links above, Ruwart is a strong anarchist who makes a living from New Age quacksalver books. In one of those books, she made the argument that age-of-consent laws violated the rights of the child to have sex- which fact was brought into the open by Root's campaign this month.)

This is Ruwart's best shot- an early knockout. Gravel's support, such as it is, is going to be pragmatists within the party- ditto Root. Phillies, as the reformer candidate, is more likely to support Bob Barr than Mary Ruwart... but since Phillies has spoken ill of all the other candidates, and Phillies and Ruwart are the only long-time Libertarian activists of these five, it could go either way, or his bloc of voters could fragment.

If Ruwart's support is as I'm predicting here- or less- then we go on to another ballot, minus Gravel. Gravel's support goes more to Barr than to any of the others, with my prediction:

BOB BARR - 28%

Next drop Phillies. If Phillies supports Ruwart, then his bloc will fragment, but enough will go to her to get her the nomination. I personally think Phillies will back Barr instead- which means his reform-minded supporters won't give Ruwart the time of day.

BOB BARR - 39%

And that leaves three. Who do you think Root will support- an anarchist who he's openly attacked as being in favor of underage sex, or a fellow former Republican?

Long story short- the more ballots there are, the better Barr's chances are for nomination. There is a very, very strong chance that Ruwart wins early, though- she is quite definitely the frontrunner, especially at a convention where the anarchists and purists have organized to undo the work of the 2006 Portland convention.

Tonight we'll see the LP Presidential debate on C-SPAN (9 PM EDT). I may or may not watch- after all, I've already got a (non-LP) candidate. I will, however, watch the ballot tomorrow- just to see how far off my guess is...

1 comment:

Carl said...

I would guess that at least half of Phillies' voters go for Ruwart. True, Phillies is the choice of some reformers, and Phillies has made multiple intelligent pronouncements on the limitations of simplistic ZAP thinking. However, he has much of his support from his role as gadfly within the party, the fact that he is a party insider.

Also, Phillies is adamantly pro-choice, so I have a hard time imagining him supporting Barr.

This doesn't mean Ruwart is a definite winner. Some of the hardcare anarchists will vote for Barr, Root or Gravel based on their power to generate media. Remember that Gary Nolan -- a former Republican talk show host -- was a close contender in 2004. He failed partly because he was a terrible candidate. Talk show hosts get rewarded for being outrageous; candidates for being non-threatening.

WAR has much to offer the Gary Nolan supporter. So does Barr.

BTW, I am not at the convention, and no longer a party member, even. This is pure horse racing for me. If indeed there are only 400 delegates, it makes me wonder if enthusiasm for the party is diminishing from all sides. Then again, it could be that it is simply a lot easier to fly into Atlanta or Anaheim than into Denver...