Libertarians On The Rise ?

With the Republican and Democratic Parties both near the bottom of the barrel in public opinion polls, the Libertarian Party is claiming that it’s numbers are increasing:

Polls show that fewer Americans are calling themselves Republicans or Democrats and the number of Americans unaffiliated with either party has reached an all-time high — good news for Libertarians, say officials of the nation’s third-largest party.

The Libertarian Party has had an 18 percent increase in membership since January, said Shane Cory, executive director of the Libertarian National Committee.

More Americans are joining the Libertarian Party because they are “disillusioned with typical party politics and are looking for a change,” Mr. Cory said.

“What we’re seeing recently is Republicans and Democrats are only interested in maintaining their own power,” he said. “You have Republicans standing by their president during this occupation in Iraq while Democrats sit idly by and watch the Republicans self-destruct.”


Mr. Cory said the number of Americans rejecting the Republican and Democratic parties will continue to grow.

“They’re looking for a change and a shift,” Mr. Cory said. “They’re sick of same old politics as usual and are looking for a viable alternative, and we’re that viable alternative.”

So does this represent some kind of sea change in American politics that libertarians in general, and the Libertarian Party specifically, will benefit from ? Frankly, I’m skeptical. We’ve seen plenty of times in the past when one, or both political parties have fallen out of favor and the number of people who identify themselves as “independents” has risen steadily over the years. While an 18% increase in membership might seem impressive, keep in mind that this is from a starting point of about 250,000 members according the LP reports. At most, that means about 45,000 people. And that assumes that they stay members for more than a couple of years.

Not exactly the kind of numbers you need to win an election on the statewide level, never mind nationwide.