How could a Third Party candidate affect Barack Obama's chances at the polls?

Repeatedly in U.S. history, maverick contenders such as Virgil Goode have unintentionally handed the White House to the underdog. Could it happen again?

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"Goode could easily maintain at least a few percentage points in Virginia through the fall. He remains a popular local figure who served

in the Virginia State Senate for 24 years and then then represented VA’s 5th district in the U.S. House until 2009," notes Diaz, who adds that Goode's message "appeals to many voters in rural, small-town Virginia. His Old Dominion charm is a break from a national race that can often seem impersonal. Goode remembers where his former constituents’ kids go to school, when their siblings moved to a nearby county, and how their family businesses have fared for the past two or three generations. He opens all his own doors -- and all doors for his staffers -- and makes sure that women enter first.

"He attends Pleasant Hill Methodist Church (though he’s Baptist) and spends his days on the trail at chicken festivals and gun shoots. To top it off, he narrowly missed giving a speech at a memorial dedication because he stopped en route to save a beagle who was hit by a truck -- he even paid a passerby to drive the dog to the vet before he continued on his way.

"He wants to eliminate foreign aid, issue a moratorium on 1.2 million green cards, and audit the Federal Reserve, writes Diaz. "Goode readily admits his odds of winning the White House are long."

His chances of giving Virginia's Electoral College votes to Obama -- and, hence, the presidency -- are far greater. Asked if he realizes his candidacy could re-elect Obama, Goode told Gehrke that could be a good thing – since Goode’s key issue is immigration.

“As Goode sees it,” reports Gehrke, “Romney could actually be worse on immigration than Obama. Goode said he’s convinced Romney would be soft on illegal immigration and could persuade Republicans to agree to pro-amnesty policies, where the GOP would fight Obama.”

“While many on the right fear that Constitution Party presidential candidate Virgil Goode might just draw enough votes in his native Virginia to tip the Old Dominion’s 14 electoral votes from Mitt Romney to Barack Obama, the former six-term congressman made it clear he doesn’t care,” reports Human Events political writer John Gizzi. “Goode, in fact, feels that ‘in many ways, for conservatives, it might be better to have Obama as president next year rather than Romney.’"

"In a national contest like this year's where Obama holds slight leads or is running virtually even with Romney in key battleground states," noted the Associated Press, "even a sliver of the vote in a crucial state could determine the outcome. Obama's team has scenarios whereby Obama can win in Virginia and Colorado with less than 50 percent vote with an assist from Goode and Johnson.

"That third-party candidates have become a consideration in Obama's camp illustrates one of the president's persistent challenges and his potential weakness: his inability to get above 50 percent in states he carried with some comfort in 2008."

Hence the Obama dream: That the dissatisfied will switch to third party candidates.

It worked for George W. Bush and Woodrow Wilson.

And twice for Bill Clinton.

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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