Why Republicans Need Libertarians

David Kirby and David Boaz note that the Republican losses in the 2006 elections can be directly tied to a loss of support for the GOP from libertarian-minded voters:

In the past, our research shows, most libertarians voted Republican—72 percent for George W. Bush in 2000, for instance, with only 20 percent for Al Gore, and 70 percent for Republican congressional candidates in 2002. But in 2004, presumably turned off by war, wiretapping, and welfare-state spending sprees, they shifted sharply toward the Democrats. John F. Kerry got 38 percent of the libertarian vote. That was a dramatic swing that Republican strategists should have noticed. But somehow the libertarian vote has remained hidden in plain sight.

This year we commissioned a nationwide post-election survey of 1013 voters from Zogby International. We again found that 15 percent of the voters held libertarian views. We also found a further swing of libertarians away from Republican candidates. In 2006, libertarians voted 59-36 for Republican congressional candidates—a 24-point swing from the 2002 mid-term election. To put this in perspective, front-page stories since the election have reported the dramatic 7-point shift of white conservative evangelicals away from the Republicans. The libertarian vote is about the same size as the religious right vote measured in exit polls, and it is subject to swings more than three times as large.

Based on the turnout in 2004, Bush’s margin over Kerry dropped by 4.8 million votes among libertarians. Had he held his libertarian supporters, he would have won a smashing reelection rather than squeaking by in Ohio.

As Kirby and Boaz point out, it’s not hard to understand why voters that hold libertarian views would be upset with the GOP under the leadership of George W. Bush:

President Bush and the congressional Republicans left no libertarian button unpushed in the past six years: soaring spending, expansion of entitlements, federalization of education, cracking down on state medical marijuana initiatives, Sarbanes-Oxley, gay marriage bans, stem cell research restrictions, wiretapping, incarcerating U.S. citizens without a lawyer, unprecedented executive powers, and of course an unnecessary and apparently futile war. The striking thing may be that after all that, Democrats still looked worse to a majority of libertarians.

Boaz and Kirby further point out that libertarian-oriented voters seem to be an especially high percentage of the vote in places like New Hampshire and the Mountain West that are absolutely essential for a Republican national majority and electoral college victory.

With all the talk about a left-libertarian fusion and calls for libertarian oriented voters to abandon the GOP, there is a lesson in these statistics. The Republicans need libertarian votes, the Democrats don’t. Which party do you think is more likely to adopt policies that libertarians favor, the one that needs us, or the one that doesn’t ?

H/T: Professor Bainbridge

Related Posts:

Should Libertarians Leave The GOP ?
Brock Lindsey’s “Liberaltarianism”
F.A. Hayes On Conservatives vs. Classical Liberals
Matt Welch on Liberaltarians

  • http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com Eric Dondero

    Precisely. Plus Republicans are just in general, nicer people and much more accepting of us libertarians. Democrats are rude, obnoxious, and hateful towards libertarians. I just read one Blog where the Blogger titled their article, “If you really love me, you’d kill yourselves.” She was referring to libertarians.

    But it’s a two-way street. We libertarians need Republicans too. They have excellent ballot access and a tried and true label. We need to be loyal team players with them, as well.

    Eric at http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com

  • http://rizzn.com Rizzn

    I have to admit, I like most Libertarians and Red-Staters, cringe at the talk of party fusion with Democrats – they are not only hateful to us Libertarians, but hateful in general. Still, it’s hard to ignore people like Frank Gonzalez who under the Democratic banner won over 40% of the vote in his district, just a few points shy of being the first federally elected Libertarian.

    On the TXSLEC list this weekend, Jeff Daiell brought up some good points on the topic:
    (full conversation here: (http://modernopinion.com/us/libertarian/2006/12/libertarian-strategy-should-we-focus.asp)

    Also, many groups align with the Democrats because the Democrats aligned with them, at least officially, and alleged advocates of free enterprise disdained them. Those are groups we can recruit from. Finally, keep in mind that even if we peel away 3-5% among any of these groups, and especially if we do so from more than one, the bipartisans will notice and, however grudgingly, will move in our direction on some issues to attract those folks back.

  • http://www.competencesoftware.net Jessica Byrnes

    Sarbanes Oxley and acts like it are purposely designed to tighten control
    over free enterprise which makes enterprise, of course, less free. Sooner or later
    the entrepreneurs who fuel the economic engine get tired of funding
    parasitic government bureaucrats and rapacious “global elite” banking interests.
    They quit working and that is the end of an economy and the civilization.
    The trend of burdening actual producers with “one size fits all” regulations is accelerating not decelerating.

    What’s the answer?

    How many people engaged in business really understand an Income Statement? A Balance Sheet? A Cash Flow Statement? Every one engaged in business should understand
    these financial reports and their personal responsibility to ensure reporting
    accuracy. But the % of individuals engaged in business that truly understand
    financial reporting is probably very small. And so they make mistakes
    or are open to fraud perpetrated by ethics deficient “experts”.

    The market crashes, the public is shorn and their savings harvested.

    Some politicians rise up on their hind legs, wring their hands and
    pass legislation to “protect the public”. The law gets applied
    to everyone whether they had an ethics problem or not. Usually,
    the fox in placed in charge of the chicken coop as was the case
    with Joe Kennedy being made the first SEC chairman by Roosevelt
    after Kennedy made a fortune short selling before the created crash
    of 1929.

    The “global elite” pay their 100 million or so in fines
    negotiated by their global elite attorneys and then carry on
    business as usual working their fines and cost of compliance
    into their numbers.

    The true entrepreneur gets squashed further.

    The only way the “global elite” get away with this racket is
    to make the subject of finance so complex that us ordinary beings
    can’t confront it.

    The answer is to simplify the subject matter so a critical
    mass of businessmen will truly understand the language
    of finance and its rules, will see how they are getting ripped
    off by parasitic elements and will “throw the rascals out”.

    Our latest course – Sarbanes Oxley Simplified makes the
    act understandable and fun to learn.

    Maybe enough people will spot the super control agenda
    behind acts like Sarbanes Oxley and Basel II and take back
    ownership of their countries and economies from the parasites.

  • http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com Eric Dondero

    Response to Rzzn,

    Why is it that the only two “libertarian Democrats” Frank Gonzales in Florida and Joel Winter in NH, get all the attention, yet the hundreds of libertarian Republican candidates who ran and won this year get ignored by Libertarian Party advocates like you? Why the double standard?

    We’re talking HUNDREDS of libertarian Republican candidate in 2006. And ONLY two “libertarian Democrats.”

    You know Joel Winter won a seat in the NH Legislature. Everybody is beaming about him; “Joel the libertarian Hero.”

    You know how many libertarians were elected to the NH Legislature as Republicans this year? About 40 like Jason Berrick, DJ Bettencourt, Al Baldarasso.

    Are you hearing anything about them?

    The whole “libertarian Democrat” thing is way, way, way overblown.

    And as for Gonzales, the Florida Democrats kept a long arm’s distance away from him. They wanted nothing to do with his candidacy.

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