Presidential race tightens in Georgia

The last Democratic presidential nominee to carry Georgia was Bill Clinton in 1992. That year, independent Ross Perot won 13% of the vote here, and Clinton narrowly defeated President George H.W. Bush.

"Perot had lots of name recognition by 1992," Black says. "He was the most significant third-party candidate since George Wallace (in 1968). … He was really pulling a significant slice of the vote, and in Georgia it hurt George Bush."

Wallace won 13.5% of the vote nationally in 1968. In 1992, Perot used his vast personal fortune and easily understood economic charts to get nearly 19%.

No one should expect a repeat this year nationally, Black says. "Barr doesn't have any money. McKinney doesn't have any money," he says.

Early support often fades

Third-party candidates usually poll better early in a campaign when voters disgruntled by major-party candidates consider voting for them, says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. "But as you approach election day, it is obvious that either the Democrat or the Republican will be elected president," he says. "At that point, people do not want to throw away their vote."

Other third-party candidates this year include:

• Independent Ralph Nader, 74. He got 2.7% of the vote nationally in 2000 and 0.37% in 2004. Key issues include cutting the military budget and cracking down on what he calls corporate welfare. Nader is on the ballot in 45 states and the District of Columbia, says Richard Winger, a ballot-access expert.

• Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin, 56. The Florida pastor, author and talk show host wants to outlaw abortion, abolish the IRS and Federal Reserve, and "eviscerate" federal programs such as Social Security. He's on the ballot in 37 states.

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