David Frum on the Goldwater Myth:
. Basically, it's that Goldwater -> Reagan was not because of Barry, but that Reagan came in because of the problems during Carter's term.
Too lazy to read the link, but living throuhg those days Carter was pretty humiliating to Democrats. As I recall... he fired his entire cabinet after two years as nobody knew what they were doing. (Kind of like Obama needs to fire Geithner.) Gas prices had doubled before his Presidency and stayed "high". There was a recession with high inflation and high interest rates. Most crushing was the humiliation of the Iranian student hostage crisis and the failed desert rescue. Many of the rescue craft crashed as they could not handle sand. Had trouble rescueing thenselves let alone the students.
I don't recall anyone linking Goldwater to Ronnies ascent at the time. Carter's team just came across as incompetent. Nice, honest - but incompetent.