All part of his daring master plan to make his name as widely reviled among the right as Ralph Nader’s is among the left.

Polls in Georgia and North Carolina over the last two weeks show Mr. Barr winning 8 percent and 6 percent respectively of the presidential vote, and in both cases helping keep likely Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama within striking distance of Mr. McCain in those states — which, taken together, account for more electoral votes than Florida, Pennsylvania or Ohio…

[InsiderAdvantage pollster Matt] Towery said North Carolina and Georgia are exactly the places that Mr. Barr could put in play: both have high African-American populations that Mr. Obama can tap to boost his turnout numbers, and have conservative-leaning voters whose dissatisfaction with President Bush could lead them to a third-party candidate.

The Georgia poll, taken just before Mr. Barr secured the Libertarian nomination, gave Mr. McCain 45 percent support, Mr. Obama 35 percent and Mr. Barr 8 percent. In North Carolina a Public Policy Polling survey released Monday found Mr. McCain at 43 percent, Mr. Obama at 40 percent and Mr. Barr at 6 percent. The poll’s authors said Mr. Barr’s support appeared to come particularly from independents who previously had broken for Mr. McCain.

I can understand a third-party run if, like Perot, you command a minority so sizable — 20 or 25 percent, say — that the party simply has to address some of its concerns, if not in this election then in the next. A five percent minority doesn’t do that. You can make up that amount elsewhere by doing a better job of mobilizing your base or pandering a bit to other constituencies at the margins. If you’re going to strike at the establishment, in other words, you’d better do it hard enough that the reaction is fear, not anger. How do you think libertarians will be received if this tool hands us President Obama? Exit question: On which issues, precisely, do Barr and Ron Paul propose to compromise with the 95% of Republicans who aren’t voting for them? They’re each trying to bring the GOP around to more libertarian positions, Barr by spoiling McCain’s chances and Paul by trying to work within the party for now and land a role at the convention. Surely they understand that there’ll be some give and take involved in reaching an accommodation with more centrist/hawkish conservatives. Yet Paul’s philosophy, in which every last position is presented as the one and only acceptable constitutional solution, makes that impossible. You have to do exactly what he wants, because that’s what the Constitution wants and there can be no compromise where the supreme law of the land is concerned. So how does this play out? If the GOP decides, sure, let’s give the gold standard a second look, what does America’s Greatest Patriot give back?