Libertarians: the largest swing vote in America?

For those who’ve been despairing about the state of politics in America, I have some good news from the Cato Institute. We’re actually the largest swing voter group out there at roughly 13-20% of the population, it’s just slightly harder to reach out to us because we aren’t organized in labor unions or churches.

But we’ve basically determined the last few elections. The (small-l) libertarian vote has traditionally gone to the Republicans; they’ve been seen as the lesser evil. However, a massive demographic revolt occurred in 2004, and Bush only received 59% of the libertarian vote (as opposed to 72% in 2000, when he campaigned talking like a libertarian). And as the libertarian demographic is about evenly split on the war, most of the pro-war libertarians basically voted for him for that reason alone.

This revolt occurred despite Kerry being rated even lower than Gore on average in the libertarian grouping… meaning it was a vote to punish Bush, not because we were enamored with Kerry.

But what would have happened if a more libertarian-leaning candidate was run by the Democrats, such as Howard Dean? The Democrats would only have had to bring Bush down to a 50% libertarian vote (9 points) to cost him Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada… and therefore the election.

And it would have happened, too-despite libertarian tendencies to vote Republican, we’re the most easily-parted group from the GOP fold. More libertarians voted for Perot than any other constituency. And we were almost persuaded to let the jackasses have a go at the Presidency this year.

So ignore us at your peril, Republicratic animals.

38 Comments
  1. Oh, for God’s sake. If you push the “Howard Dean is a libertarian” line too far, everyone on KOS and Democratic Underground will suddenly claim to be lifelong libertarians. I’m not sure you want that crowd in your party (but, then, at least they won’t be in mine anymore.)

    http://www.donkeydigest.com

  2. He’s not a libertarian but he was decidedly closer to our views than Bush or Kerry during the 2004 elections.

  3. Oh c’mon… the dude wasn’t a libertarian but he was friendly to us on the war, on civil liberties, on gun rights and on the debt. That’s more than you could ask for from most Democrats and certainly more than you could ask for from Bush.

  4. Well, if he didn’t scream like a donkey in front of cameras, he might have got the nomination.

  5. I was involved in the Libertarians for Dean effort because of the Iraq War. Dean was a pleasant surprise on gun rights, although not a libertarian. And his opposition to deficits was good in principle, but his solution was more taxes, not less spending.

    Republican statism is driving many libertarians to consider Democrats as temporary allies. Hopefully after the Dems take control of Congress, we can point to the failures of the Republicans that caused this to happen, and build a new coalition against Democrat statism.

  6. Again, can anyone here name any current or former Libertarian Party members or close friends of the Libertarian Party elected to state legislatures or congress as a Democrat?

    (And no Steve Villaincourt of New Hampshire doesn’t count, cause he’s since switched to Republican).

    I can name about 20 to 30 ex or current LPers elected as Republicans, folks like Ron Paul – TX, Dana Rohrabacher – CA, Leon Drolet – MI, Toby Nixon – WA, Ken Lindell – ME, Tom McClintock – CA, Jeff Woods – WI, Vic Kohring – AK and scores of others.

    The Democrat Party is completely useless for libertarians for one big reason: It is a horrible vehicle for us to get our libertarians elected to office on. The GOP, on the other hand, has opened up its doors to us, and even encourages us to run in their primaries and seek their nominations.

    Witness the “Vermont 5”. Nuff said.

  7. For those who advocate the libertarians align with the Democrat strategy, what would we tell our current elected libertarians who serve in office as Republicans? Leave the GOP and all of a sudden run as Democrats? That would be an absurdity. Ron Paul, for instance, could never win reelection in TX CD-14 as a Democrat.

    One other thing to consider.

    It took a Republican President, George W. Bush, to appoint a former Libertarian Party State Chair to a Cabinet post – Gayle Norton, Interior Secretary. Bush has appointed 5 other Libertarians to his Administration INCLUDING Bill Evers, 1984 Bergland for President Campaign Manager.

    Don’t recall Clinton or any other Dem President for that matter ever appointing Libertarians to office, let alone a fomer LIBERTARIAN PARTY STATE CHAIR!!!

  8. Oh, you mean like that theocratic bigot, Ron Paul?

    I would gladly piss on his grave. Fuck him and the horse his white hooded self rode in on.

  9. I think the Republicans have lost the Libertarian vote for at least the next 5 years. The things that traditionally get them the Libertarian vote — like promises of limited government — those things are obviously not happening under a Republican administration. Of course the Dems are not any better, since increased taxes are a sure thing should they get put in power.

  10. Dondero: I know Bill Evers; met him at Hoover and other events while trying to help students at Stanford form a Libertarian campus club. Last I knew, first hand, is that he is a registered Republican.

    Now living in Long Beach, I found that Rohrabacher is now, essentially corrupt, describing Jack Abramoff as a “stand-up guy”. Like you, and unlike me, Rohrabacher supports the war in Iraq. I will be voting for his anti-war Libertarian opponent, Dennis Chang.

    Please provide proof that McClintock was formerly registered Libertarian. Having lived in California all of my life, and being a member of the Executive Committee of the LP of CA, I have never seen any evidence of McClintock being a member of the party.

  11. Oh, you mean like that theocratic bigot, Ron Paul?

    I would gladly piss on his grave. Fuck him and the horse his white hooded self rode in on.

    Oh c’mon… the libertarian movement is greater than your singular viewpoint. I don’t agree with Ron Paul on absolutely everything, but I’m still damn glad he’s in Congress.

    For those who advocate the libertarians align with the Democrat strategy, what would we tell our current elected libertarians who serve in office as Republicans? Leave the GOP and all of a sudden run as Democrats? That would be an absurdity. Ron Paul, for instance, could never win reelection in TX CD-14 as a Democrat.

    Please. It’s not like a few libertarians trying to influence the Democrats is going to force THE ENTIRETY OF LIBERTARIANISM EVAR to become Democrats. Ron Paul won’t wake up terrified one day to discover that he’s been nagically turned into a Democrat.

    Is it so wrong to try to get BOTH parties to suck less?

  12. “For those who advocate the libertarians align with the Democrat strategy,”

    I’m not really in favor of libertarians “aligning” with Democrats (or Republicans for that matter). I have merely suggested doing more outreach to those on the “left” as – contrary to what some here belive – some of them could be converts to the cause of liberty. There are different kinds of leftists and I realize that a lot of them are a lost cause. However, there are a good number of civil libertarian leftists who are confused about economics. A lot of these people are not even aware of the fact that the Libertarian Party exsists.

  13. “Oh, you mean like that theocratic bigot, Ron Paul?

    I would gladly piss on his grave. Fuck him and the horse his white hooded self rode in on.”

    This from a guy who defends eminent domain and property taxes and who thinks that the big bankers are free market and had nothing to do with communism.

  14. Again, can anyone here name a single ex or current Libertarian Party member who has ever won significant public office running as a Democrat?

    Again, can anyone here name a single ex or current Libertarian Party member who has been appointed to a Cabinet Post or any Administration at all, under Democrat Clinton or Carter?

    Y’all’s silence is deafening.

  15. As for Bill Evers, yes he is now a registered Republican. But so what. Bill hasn’t changed his views one iota, since he left the LP. And my understanding is that he’s STILL an LP Member.

    Hey, we’re not talking about a typical LP member here. For those who know Bill as long as I have, you are well aware that Bill used to be a member of the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus. As a Mainstreamer on the LNC I used to have knock-down drag out fights with Radicals like Evers, David Bergland and Sharon Ayres.

    He ran the most radical Libertarian Party Presidential Campaign in LP history – 1984, David Bergland for President.

    And Bush gives him a major Education Committee appointment?

    Shhiiiiiit. C’mon y’all. Stop being hypocrites. You’ve got to admit that’s pretty damned ironic. Ex-Libertarian Party Radical Caucus member, gets Bush Appointment.

    I could understand skepticism of Gayle Norton, who was LP Chair of CO for a scant 2 years in the early 1980s. But Evers???

  16. Andy, fine, you want to do outreach to the Left.

    So how is it that you explain the nasty little fact, that it was the Leftists at ACORN, and BAMN who blocked us libertarian petitioners all year-long at post offices and grocery stores, from gathering our signatures for Property Rights, Voter Recall, Marijuana legalization and Spending Limits?

    It wasn’t conservative blockers we had to content with.

    Not only would they stop voters from signing our petitions, but they’d get us kicked off of Wal-marts, and stores, and even post offices in some instances.

    In the last couple months, they’ve proceeded to get our valid signatures thrown out, and our initiatives kicked off the ballots in states like Montana, Nevada, Missouri and Nebraska.

    In 2004, it was the Greenie/Naderite Leftists who tried to block us from gathering signatures in Texas for the Libertarian Party!

    And these are the people you want us to align with?

  17. If we just ignore Eric, maybe he’ll go away. Responding to him only feeds his ego.

    As for Ron Paul, he’s really not my kind of libertarian, although I wouldn’t take my opinion of him as far as UA. I agree he’s a bit theocratic, although I have to question the thesis that he is racist. Opposing the Voting Rights Act is politically stupid, but actually rather logical when you consider the fact that only Southern states are subject to extra election regulations to prove that they aren’t racist. As if the Northern states aren’t racist or anything…

    I see protecting voting rights and equal protection under the law as a valid and Constitutional function of government, so I see a use for the Voting Rights Act, but instead of opposing it on the basis it is discriminatory to the South, the Congressmen like Paul should have pushed for the same basic level of election requirements on all the states. That way the they come off as LESS racist than defenders of the status quo.

  18. I had no problem at all with the Nader petitioners and the Green Party petitioners in Texas or anywhere else. They were all pretty cool and most of them signed the Libertarian Party ballot access petition (out of the ones who were elidgable to sign.

    As for blockers, yes, you are right that there are leftist blockers, but conservatives have pulled all of the same crap. As I said in another thread, I had conservative call the police on me 3 times for petitioning at gun shows. One time it was LP ballot access, another it was Recall Grey Davis (YES, you read that right), and the other time it was for Spending Limits and Stop Eminent Domain Abuse. I’ve had conservatives give me a bunch of crap for circulating marijauna petitions. Even for Medical Marijauna as I had a conservative yell at me in front of a grocery store and then complain to the manager to get me kicked out.

    You are lumping all leftist together as if they are all the same. There are different types of

  19. types of leftists. The type of leftists that I’m talking about reaching out to are the ones who value civil liberties like free speech, anti-drug war, anti-police brutality, anti-war, etc… I’m NOT talking about leftist union thugs, they are a lost cause.

  20. Andy wrote:
    “There are different kinds of leftists and I realize that a lot of them are a lost cause. However, there are a good number of civil libertarian leftists who are confused about economics”

    it is right-libertarians who are actually confused by believing left-libertarians are more concerned with civil liberties than economic liberties.

    this is uninformed…

    left-libertarians are concerned with individual equal liberty as it relates to distributive justice which occurs before the application of labor in production…the granting of privilege forces an obligation on those being excluded that becomes a license to appropriate their labor – denying their right to self-ownership.

  21. Stuart,

    Perhaps you could explain what you disagree with then, especially in Roderick’s article?

    Re: Nader and LP petitions,

    In most states (except those where we were not allowed to by law) we co-operated with the Nader petitioners; we both circulated each other’s petitions.

    In Texas, we were only able to work at UTEP with the sponsorship of a college student who is a Green.

    We also worked on the Nader petitions in Maryland, DC, Virginia, and Alabama. That’s just our crew – LP National and the Nader campaign actively co-operated in sharing petitioning resources all over the country.

  22. The Libertarian Party, a collective of independent people…

    Focus on the right demographic… our true pool of players comed not from republican nor democrat… it comes from the independents! They are the largest body… and easily libertarian in one form or another.

    We libertarians are all different and do not tow a common *Libertarian Line*… libertarians and independents make good bed-fellows.

  23. You can draw from a variety of sources. Historically, recruitment has been tilted too far to the right. I would suggest going where we haven’t, the left/libertarian area.

    Also, since many educators, students, journalists and artists hold those views, gaining a toehold there would help us grow further.

  24. It is back… and it is forward. The Left/Right, Red/Blue, Black/White shitake is all Republicrat/Demopublican nonsense.

    Wedge issues are meant to be wedge issues.

    Until we can get personal issues out of political discourse true change will not be attained!

  25. Pauli(e),
    ;-)

    I had not yet read that critique. Thank you very much for the link. I have signed up for the daily article… and will be checking out (from the library) more of rothbard’s writings. From the small amount of Rothbard that was quoted in this particular article I have been intriqued.

    I still feel that to focus on the grand ‘2’ (10 for the binary folk) is incorrect. I do however agree that we as libertarians are more on the radical side. As to left/right… words only we have radicals everywhere.

    One has but to believe in something different from the norm to be classed a radical. Thanks again Paulie for the link.

  26. No matter where a libertarian leans in their ideals we are all fairly different and unique. We are ALL independent by nature in some way. Some libertarians are more radical while others are more conservative. In my opinion the group closest libertarian philosophy and that most closely resembles libertarians in general is the independent voter.

    What a grand pool party we could have… given an equal amount of national and local media coverage. Much must be changed in the current censoring society. None can be changed like a light switch ON/OFF, unless a major movement were to occur.

    Let’s face it, our populace is complacent and lazy. If this statement bothers you… well there must be a reason. Instead of voting on American Idol or watching Dancing with the Stars or whatever the latest mindless drivel is… seek out independent media sources. Find out what is really going on… truly participate!

    We have changes ahead, they will take time. Don’t wait, fight!

  27. Bullshit Andy! Stop talking shit. Conservatives do not “block” libertarian petitioners. You’re a fucking liar. I’ve petitioned for over 20 years. I’ve petitioned for the Libertarian Party when you were in diapers in the snows of Western Nebraska. Never, ever has a conservative ever given me a hard time. Conservatives are too wimpy. It’s not their style.

    Liberals on the other hand, are thugs.

    They will yell and scream at you any time they see you on a college campus or grocery store. They will tell others in the area “not to sign.” They will even surround you with their thugs, like what recently happened to me at a campus in Butte, MT.

    Stop trying to play your silly-ass game, “oh gee, conservatives are just as bad as liberals” when it comes to blocking petitioners.

    Really, is that so? Tell me Andy, do you see any conservative lawyers trying to get our libertarian petitions thrown out in any states this year?

  28. Andy talks about petitioning in Texas for the Libertarian Party. He says, “ah gee, those Green Party guys were just swell.” Really?? Is that why they would call the cops on us any time they would see us Libertarian Party petitioners out in front of public libraries or at the Houston Zoo? Is that why, even though we got permission at the Houston Zoo, they would come in every day and cut us off, without permission? Is that why it was common practice for Naderites to ask Libertarians to carry their petitions, but the minute you asked for the same regard for LP ballot access, they’d mumble, “ah well, we can’t do that.”

    Is that why they would go around at the campus of the Univ. of Houston and spread rumors that we Libertarians were “Lyndon Larouchies”?

    The Leftists are scum. They are the enemies of libertarians. They have tried everything imaginable, every dirty trick in their bag, to stop us Libertarians from getting on the ballot. They need to be crushed.

  29. And yes Andy, I’ve petitioned in California. The only time I ever had a problem in CA, was when some Leftist pricks at the Univ. of San Diego-Calexico got me kicked off of campus, even though I had permission straight from the Dean, and called the cops on me. It wasn’t just students. It was college professors who did it, as well.

  30. Really, is that so? Tell me Andy, do you see any conservative lawyers trying to get our libertarian petitions thrown out in any states this year?

    I don’t know about this year, but I know for a fact they did in Illinois in 1998 and I believe 2002 as well.

    Is that why it was common practice for Naderites to ask Libertarians to carry their petitions, but the minute you asked for the same regard for LP ballot access, they’d mumble, “ah well, we can’t do that.”

    This is simply not true. Many of the Nader petitioners also carried and actively circulated Libertarian petitions. This is a fact I witnessed myself in several states.

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