Bob Barr Projected to Win Libertarian Party Nomination on Sixth Ballot; On Update: Libertarian Party Nominates Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root

The vote at the Libertarian Party convention in Denver is going into a sixth ballot, with Bob Barr looking like the most likely winner. Although there has been vocal opposition to candidates with questionable libertarian beliefs winning the nomination, it appears that the conservatives at the convention do hold a slight majority. The candidate receiving the lowest number of votes on each ballot is eliminated. The fifth ballot results were:

Mary Ruwart – 229
Bob Barr – 223
Wayne Root – 165

Although Ruwart has a slight lead over Barr (with the two being very close all day) more of Wayne Root’s support is likely to go to Barr over Ruwart on the sixth ballot.

This can have ramifications in the general election race. Having Bob Barr on the ballot gives conservatives who are dissatisfied with John McCain another option, possibly preventing McCain from moving as far to the center as he would prefer in a general election race. Barr might manage to pull in 3% to 5% of the vote, greatly surpassing the Libertarian Party’s usual results which are closer to 1%. This could tip the balance away from McCain in some close states.

In contrast, should Ruwart (who represents the more radical libertarians) win the nomination she is unlikely to attract conservative support away from McCain as Barr would. Her nomination might also lead many of the more conservative libertarians to vote for McCain as opposed to Ruwart. At present the results come down to which direction the bulk of Root’s support goes, more of Root’s supporters likely to back Barr, especially in light of Root now endorsing Barr.

Update: It looks like all that time spent at the convention appologizing for his previous stands while in Congress worked for Bob Barr. He beat Ruwart 324 to 276 on the sixth ballot. C-SPAN has cut away so I don’t know what is going on with the VP vote. If Wayne Root succeeds in winning the nomination, as I suspect is likely after he endorsed Barr, many long time libertarians will see the ticket as more Republican than Libertarian.

While many libertarians will be disappointed, this is a ticket which might do better in terms of votes than a more consistently libertarian one. If he wins the vice presidential nomination, Root might also do a better job with the media than Barr, but I hope he’s smart enough not to repeatedly speak about his parents as reason to vote for him. It came off as bad as John Edwards talking about being the son of a mill worker. If Root must stick with family, he’s better off bringing along his daughter Dakota who gave his seconding speech earlier today.

For more, David Weigel is live-blogging the convention.

Update II: Bob Barr’s web site is streaming the convention live. The vice presidential vote is going to a second ballot. It is primarily a battle between the Wayne Allyn Root and Steve Kubby, who is receiving the support of the libertarians who oppose a more Republican like ticket of Barr/Root.

Update III: The second ballot for vice president has concluded. The Libertarian Party has its ticket: Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root. One early reaction I’m seeing is that many libertarians aren’t thrilled with such a Republican-leaning ticket, but are happy over the prospects that such a ticket might help keep John McCain out of the White House.