A reader at Andrew Sullivan just about perfectly sums up my own position on McCain vs. Paul at the moment, right down to being a Cato Institute type, Reason Mag-subscribing libertarian. He doesn't get too much into the flaws of either candidate, but I don't see how libertarians could have any other choices to look at in the Republican primary (and yes, I'm aware that McCain's campaign finance reform was the worst offense against free speech in recent memory).
McCain's a solid free-trader (at a time when the tide runs against the policy), a moderate tax and spending cutter, pro-life yet mostly tepid on social policy, and best of all, a torture abolitionist. I agree completely that he was, and remains, dead wrong on Iraq. And yet I'm beginning to oscillate more, not less, between Paul and McCain. It's for one conservative reason: timidity.
McCain will be a force for good in many ways, whereas Ron Paul is, by my lights, mostly right about everything (except immigration, on which McCain, significantly, takes a better position).
Read the whole thing.
At the moment, I see myself voting for Paul while sincerely hoping McCain (who has a far more realistic shot at the nomination) pulls off the upset. If McCain has a real shot at winning the thing come Super Tuesday, I may even vote for him just as a way of helping a rational Republican win (on the other hand, my vote might not matter too much since Rudy's proxies rigged the primary here in NJ, which means I'm not doing any harm by voting for Paul as a protest vote).
The general consensus is that Obama hurts McCain a lot in the states with open primaries because they both appeal to independents, so Obama is pulling a lot of McCain's traditional support. I think that's certainly true, but ironically enough it seems like Paul is also damaging McCain a bit for the same reason. Add Huckabee to the mix (who appeals to Christianist "change" voters) along with Edwards (who appeals to the labor union "change" voters) and suddenly you have five candidates primarily competing for the "change" vote in this election. Usually there's only one or two such candidates, and they rarely get a respectable percentage of the primary vote. Now you have five candidates, all of whom are registering in the polls (starting with Obama and Huckabee competing for their party's lead and finishing with Paul in the 5-6 percent range).