Visualizing the Libertarian Uphill Battle

Google Trends is a new service where you can track how popular a particular search word or phrase is, as well as see how many news stories were run through Google News in the same period. The data goes back to the beginning of 2004 and of course I certainly had to run the obvious search: republican vs democrat vs libertarian:

Google Trends - democrat vs republican vs libertarian

I immediately noticed three things about this:

  1. Sprinting and halting: Any momentum gained from the 2004 Badnarik campaign was pretty much sqaundered or lost after the election (I blame this on LP National’s disinterest at the time), but it seems even the Republicans and Democrats haven’t figured out how to teach that dog to hunt.
  2. Media out of touch with audience: Even with a substantial spike in search interest for libertarian information in November 2004 (no doubt due to the Badnarik candidacy), the amount of news generated that contained the word libertarian in any sense barely changed (compare to dems and repubs who also notably spiked in news). Hell, our guy was arrested trying to get into the debates, you would think that would be newsworthy.
  3. Serious lack of growth: Interest in all things “libertarian” is essentially flatlined and not growing at any discernable rate. While we may pat ourselves on the back for several things over the past couple years (zero dues, LLS, and well… a blog), we are not making enough impact to spur voters to seek us out. This is our biggest hurdle.

Side note: Google Trends is awesome simply for the fact that the first three color codes just happen to be blue, red, orange.

Update: Truth in Tech takes a look at Kerry vs Bush vs Badnarik… the results are equally dismal.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. To compare the three main US minor parties, I tried “libertarian party” vs. “green party” vs. “constitution party”. “No news stories were found.” (“green” alone is too generic)

    LP was only slightly better than CP. GP was an order of magnitude better, but only twice the LP in the US (LP was miniscule relative to GP in Canada and the UK).

    Libertarian vs. “green party” reverses the results in the US, although libertarian is a much more specialized noun/adjective than green is.

    Use of the word “libertarian” does seem to be growing on general (non-libertarian) talk radio I listen to and is very commonly used to describe various officials’ and candidates’ political leanings, at least in some respects.

  2. It’s wonderfull to know that candidates who aren’t likely to be even remotely libertarian are getting the credentials anyway. Bill O’Reilly and Neil Boortz would have you beleive that they are libertarian.

    It’s time to realize that the Internet isn’t making people any smarter. In fact, roll on over to and and you’ll see that people are probably getting even dumber. A whole lot dumber. Rapidly.

    There is simply no interest, nor will there ever be until it is a necessity. And that day is coming. Be patient.

  3. Neb,

    Interesting stuff.

    Just looked at you data under “top cities” and it has Madison first.

    Does this mean Madison is generating a fair amount of libertarian news?

    If so, maybe our local media strategy is working.

  4. Good info Nigel and thanks. General Telephone and Electric used to run a ad about a guy who owned a
    hobby shop and who would not by an ad in their yellow pages. Seemed if he did, it would not be a “hobby” shop any more. That seem to be us in more ways than one.
    I think the world of some of the people in the LP, but damn they don’t seem to understand retail sales.

  5. Stephen thanks for the link!

    I have to agree with everyone is saying. It’s like this video you posted a few days ago the LP needs to seriously start running nationwide ad campaigns featuring videos like this. Untill they do they won’t be getting massive exposure.

  6. So what you’re saying is, you’re donating monthly to the Advertising Fund, right?

    What, does TV time just magically open up for us?

    The LP has been teetering near bankruptcy for the past year. Just how is it going to fund a national ad campaign?

    That said, there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of YOU putting your own money where your mouth is, and buying some airtime on some of your own local TV channels.

    Although all such ad buys will have to comply with campaign finance laws…