And by the time of the New Hampshire primary, Paul was still polling just less than 10 percent. That performance basically sank Thompson. Had Paul been missing from the race and his supporters gotten behind Romney, then John McCain might not be the presumptive nominee today. While many in the media wrote Ron Paul off, his impact on the GOP election was immense.
Barr hopes to capture at least some of that Ron Paul vote. He won't get all of it. Much of Paul's support came from voters passionately identifying with Paul the man, and not just with some abstract, anti-establishment cause.
But if Barr concentrates his message of less government, increased personal privacy and an overall disdain for the all-too-stale GOP of 2008; if he focuses on the handful of states where his message might be well-received; and if TV media markets aren't prohibitively expensive for his campaign's war chest, then the possibly resulting four-to-six percent Barr showing could make all the difference in the world for influencing the final outcome of the presidential race.
An obvious example is his home state of Georgia. There, Barr will have to conduct an intense, targeted campaign to actually win the six percent or so that most polls show him getting right now. And the Atlanta TV market, ninth largest in the nation, is pricey.
But just an hour or so away sits Alabama. TV is cheaper there, and there are plenty of conservatives who are less than thrilled with John McCain. Throw in a decent campaign effort in North Carolina and several Western states, including, of all places, Alaska. Then add to the mix the few states that award electoral votes proportionately, and suddenly, Bob Barr could have the same impact on John McCain in 2008 that Ross Perot had on President Bush 41 in 1992.
It's really up to Barr. Will he run a smart campaign that doesn't attempt to eat the whole elephant, or will he try for "superstar" status and end up having no impact at all?