Skip to comments.The Libertarian Vote and Republican Prospects
Posted on 10/12/2006 4:19:25 PM PDT by Aetius
The Libertarian Vote by David Boaz and David Kirby
David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute. He is the author of Libertarianism: A Primer and editor of The Libertarian Reader, Toward Liberty, and Left, Right & Babyboom: America's New Politics. David Kirby is executive director of America's Future Foundation and a graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
The main theme of political commentary in this decade is polarization. Since the battles over the impeachment of President Clinton and the Florida vote in 2000, pundits have been telling us that we're a country split down the middle, red vs. blue, liberal vs. conservative. Political analysts talk about base motivation and the shrinking of the swing vote. But the evidence says they are wrong.
Not all Americans can be classified as liberal or conservative. In particular, polls find that some 10 to 20 percent of voting-age Americans are libertarian, tending to agree with conservatives on economic issues and with liberals on personal freedom. The Gallup Governance Survey consistently finds about 20 percent of respondents giving libertarian answers to a two-question screen.
Our own data analysis is stricter. We find 9 to 13 percent libertarians in the Gallup surveys, 14 percent in the Pew Research Center Typology Survey, and 13 percent in the American National Election Studies, generally regarded as the best source of public opinion data.
For those on the trail of the elusive swing voter, it may be most notable that the libertarian vote shifted sharply in 2004. Libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 to 20 percent, but Bush's margin dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry. Congressional voting showed a similar swing from 2002 to 2004. Libertarians apparently became disillusioned with Republican overspending, social intolerance, civil liberties infringements, and the floundering war in Iraq. If that trend continues into 2006 and 2008, Republicans will lose elections they would otherwise win.
The libertarian vote is in play. At some 13 percent of the electorate, it is sizable enough to swing elections. Pollsters, political strategists, candidates, and the media should take note of it.
Its one thing for libertarians to hold socially liberal views, but its quite another to parrot leftwing rhetoric in describing the other side of such issues.
I'm not exactly sure what they mean by "social intolerance", but I'm guessing they mean gay marriage. If so, it is downright sad that libertarians would accept and lend credence to such deliberate distortions of social conservatism, and to the Left's attempt to cast the preservation of what has always been, and what has no need of change, as the bad, or 'intolerant' position. How exactly is it 'intolerant' to spearhead the movement to remove this issue from the Courts, and to let the people decide?
That's my major issue with many socially-liberal libertarians. If you favor gay marriage, abortion rights, etc, then fine, but do the honorable thing and make the case for them w/o casting negative aspersions on social conservatives (who just happen to represent the views of the overall population in many cases), and do so w/o making the ridiculous, insulting argument that your socially liberal views are somehow enshrined in the Constitution, and thus above and beyond us small-minded rubes.
If we narrowly lose the house, stand by for a flurry of "not OUR fault, it's the Republicans for not living up to our ideals" posts.
Remind me again...just how are they conserative?
I thought libertarians liked going directly to the people for the decisions in the form of referendum votes. In the case of gay marriage it was handily defeated by the people of my state.
We believe in small government and leaving most social issues to the states. It's a much more philospohically honest approach to conservatism than the social conservatism, who's followers want to use big government as a tool of social control almost as much as the libs do.
And 38% of you preferred Kerry over President Bush. I think I'll stick to the mainstream brand of conseratism and forgo the comic book stuff.
That's cool. Gay marriage is a state issue, not a federal one.
Even Bushbots admit that federal spending has been out of control, the drop in support from Libertarians is a reflection of that.
Some how I think the loss of one tenth of one percent went unnoticed.
You should hear the stuff these Libertarians say about opposing terrorism and the war in Iraq (part of the same process btw....). They sound indistinguishable from the Democratic Underground and the Daily Kos.
They've also smeared Michelle Malkin when some seditious lesbian somewhere comitted suicide.
Already we are conceding defeat? Nay!
I'm not sure what goes on behind those doors at CATO...but it sure isn't rationale.
Really? Is that why Republicans are poised for such a stunning electoral victory?
LOL! As opposed to the LP's stunning election victories. What is it you people have now, two librarians and a school district supervisor?
Of course not!
If by leaving it to the states, you mean the people and/or the legislature, then fine by me. Afterall, it is the Constitutionally-correct position.
But some leading libertarians are not so willing to leave it to the states. Pat Buchanan wrote an article not too long ago calling for a truce in the Culture War, in which he basically called for a states rights approach to social issues, including marriage. But "Reason" magazine's Nick Gillespie took issue with that by taking the thorougly leftist, thorougly absurd, position that such a truce is not acceptable because the Constitution demands abortion and gay marriage rights, and as such, the unenlightened masses of backward states must bow to a wiser rule of federal judges.
Obviously, Gillespie does not speak for all libertarians, but he is one of the most visible mouthpieces for libertarianism on television. Still, I may be giving him too much credit for influence among libertarians, but it would be nice to hear more libertarians take your stated position.
I didn't mean you specifically.
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