libertarian vote

Another conservative plea to libertarians falls flat

Mitt Romney

In what is becoming its very own genre of blog post, another conservative voice has come out with a plea for libertarians to support Mitt Romney.  To those of us who were not born last week, this all seems quite humorous as most of the time libertarians are treated as irrelevant.  In this election, though, things have gotten tight and our votes count as much as those of the most hardcore Republicans.

As I wrote here two weeks ago, Republicans have a long way to go before they can make a truly credible case to libertarians.  For one thing, they need to understand that most libertarians do not see themselves in the same way as conservatives and liberals.  For the most part, both of these groups line up pretty well with a major party.  Sure, conservatives will say they want the GOP to be more right-leaning, and liberals will say they want the Democrat Party to veer more progressive, but they are both going to vote for their respective parties in the end.  Libertarians, though, mesh with elements of both parties - and find plenty to dislike about both as well.

It’s clear to me that the writer of the post, Mr. Brady Cremeens, didn’t read that post, and doesn’t understand the first thing about libertarians.  His entire piece is premised upon the idea that libertarians are just another element of the Right that simply needs to be brought back into the fold.  In Cremeens’ world, we really are just “conservatives who smoke pot” as the saying goes.  With his initial premise being flawed, then, it does not bode well for the rest of what he says.  If he does not understand where libertarians are coming from, how can he possibly make a convincing case?

Segmenting of the Libertarian Vote: Tea Partiers, Civil Libertarians, and Libertarian Independents

Written by David Kirby, associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Last week, I posted data from the latest Reason-Rupe poll showing 77 percent of libertarians supporting Romney—the highest percentage share of the libertarian vote of any Republican presidential candidate since 1980.

Many commenters on Twitter and Facebook were horrified! Surely, many reasoned, this large vote share is a measure of antipathy for Obama rather than affinity for Romney. Others commented that any libertarian supporting Romney doesn’t deserve to be considered a “true” libertarian.

I wanted to reflect on this last comment. Who should count as a libertarian?

In our Cato research, David Boaz, Emily Ekins and I have taken to using a relatively broad definition of a libertarian. Why? Compared to other political words like “capitalism” or “socialism,” fewer know the word “libertarian.” Many who hold libertarian views call themselves “moderate” or “independent” or even “conservative.” Few polls even offer respondents an option to identify themselves as “libertarian.” Those that do reveal confusion about what the word means.

Should libertarians support Mitt Romney?

One of the biggest questions many libertarians are dealing with is who to support for president this year. The Libertarian Party has nominated a somewhat credible candidate, at least by his resume alone, in former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Some others are trying to mount a nationwide write in campaign to try and get Ron Paul elected, even though his campaign is over.

While our conservative friends are trying to persuade us to support Mitt Romney. Kurt Schlichter has written one of the more persuasive pieces over on Breitbart’s Big Government:

There is no more time for games, no room for hurt feelings. Ron Paul fans, you need to choose, because not voting for Romney is a vote for Obama. It’s that simple. And you could make the difference.
Making no choice in this election is a choice –it’s a choice for a collectivist who will get two or three Supreme Court picks over a man who picked a guy, Paul Ryan, who understands capitalism and its unbreakable link to human freedom. Now, this is a two-way street. Romney and Ryan need to reach out to libertarians over their common ground. Fortunately, there is lots of common ground.

No, the Republican Party is not a libertarian party, but it is the only party with any libertarian element. It’s the only place you have any chance of being heard. And with guys like Rand Paul and the libertarian-friendly Tea Party elements, you can be in the GOP.

Most of that is true. The Republican Party of the two major parties is the one that has a genuine libertarian element. The Democratic Party as seen in its convention is generally hostile to individual liberty.

A shift toward libertarianism

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver points to a recent CNN poll showing that the public shifting more towards libertarian ideas (emphasis mine):

Since 1993, CNN has regularly asked a pair of questions that touch on libertarian views of the economy and society:

Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?

Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

A libertarian, someone who believes that the government is best when it governs least, would typically choose the first view in the first question and the second view in the second.
[I]n CNN’s latest version of the poll, conducted earlier this month, the libertarian response to both questions reached all-time highs. Some 63 percent of respondents said government was doing too much — up from 61 percent in 2010 and 52 percent in 2008 — while 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2008. (It was the first time that answer won a plurality in CNN’s poll.)

Young libertarians broke for Obama in 2012

youth vote

There was a lot of talk during the election about the libertarian vote thanks in part to Ron Paul’s bid for the White House and the work done by David Boaz, Emily Ekins, and David Kirby at the Cato Institute. Many conservatives spent their time and efforts trying to convince libertarians to vote for Mitt Romney, the Republican Party nominee, rather than voting for Barack Obama or a third-party candidate

While this debate with our conservative friends became heated at times, libertarian voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Romney; at least based on what we know. This isn’t exactly surprising since libertarians, though politically independent in nature, have generally been supportive of Republican candidates.

With that said, Republicans are struggling with a segment of libertarian voters that has been all too common of a theme and a reflection of its larger electoral problems. Earlier this month, Emily Ekins — co-author of The Libertarian Vote: Swing Voters, Tea Parties, and the Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal Center — noted that Obama took a plurality of young libertarian voters:

A libertarian explains why she’s voting for Mitt Romney

While some conservative bloggers have tried to make a case for libertarians voting for Mitt Romney, they haven’t really been able to connect because they fail to understand where we’re coming from in our perspective on politics and public policy. However, Liz Mair, a libertarian who works as a political consultant and strategist, explains that she is voting for Romney, despite reservations about some of his policies:

Reason presents libertarian cases for Romney, Obama, and Johnson

“Who should libertarians vote for in the election?” is a question that has been asked time and time again over the last few months. Most of the pressure on libertarians is coming from Republicans, who insist that Romney is entitled to our support.

Several contributors have weighed in on those particular arguments here at United Liberty. Doug Mataconis and Tom Knighton have both explained that the “libertarian case” for Romney is quite thin. Brian Lehman has repelled many of the arguments put forward by Republicans trying to appeal to libertarians.

Jennifer Knight laid a case for Romney from a libertarian perspective, explaining economic issues “MUST be straightened out before we can get back to the drawing table and create the government and society we desire.” And Chris Barron, co-founder of GOProud and a contributor here at United Liberty, has explained why he is backing Romney.

It seems like a forgone conclusion that he will overwhelming win libertarian voters, but is there really a “libertarian case” for Romney? Or even President Obama, for that matter? And what about Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee? While they don’t answer the question outright, leaving it for readers to decide, Reason has published three separate pieces presenting the “libertarian case” for Romney, Obama, and Johnson.

Taking up Romney’s case is Robert Poole:

New e-book takes a look at the “libertarian vote”

Most Americans typically think about politics in terms of “red” and “blue” states or in terms of liberal and conservative. Independents are sought after in elections, but their voting patters and beliefs are not easily understood by either major party. Fitting into that bloc of voters who are considered independents are libertarians — those who are “fiscal conservative” and “socially liberal.”

There has been a lot of talk about how libertarians should vote in this election, but there really doesn’t seem to be much of an understand from where this important voting bloc is coming. In a new e-book — The Libertarian Vote: Swing Voters, Tea Parties, and the Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal Center, David Boaz, David Kirby, and Emily Ekins look at the data, offering insight into what issues help dicate the voting patterns of libertarians, which makes up between 10% to 20% of voters.

You can purchase the e-book, which is reasonably priced at $3.99, for your Kindle over at

Parts of this book were discussed in a forum earlier this month at the Cato Institute as David Kirby and Emily Ekins explained their recent look at the libertarian roots of the Tea Party, a movement that was instrumental in the 2010 mid-term election:

Want libertarians to vote for your presidential candidate?

Obama and Romney debate

For libertarians who watched Tuesday night’s debate, there really wasn’t much about which to be happy. It was the same old, tired rhetoric that we frequently hear from Republicans and Democrats, no matter who is running.

There has been a lot talk about the libertarian vote in this election. Our conservative friends, many of whom loathe President Obama, are pushing hard libertarians to get on board with Mitt Romney, while also in the next breath, they deride us, claiming that they really don’t need us. Strange how that works, isn’t it?

But as David Kirby recently noted, the overwhelming majority —  some 70% — of identified libertarians are voting for the Romney/Ryan ticket. That, however, is not going to prevent conservatives from railing about how voting for any other other Romney is a “vote for Obama.”

If conservative Republicans are really interested in getting our support, Nick Gillespie of explains how that can be accomplish (here are some hints: cut spending, end the wars, and stay out of the bedroom):

Ron Paul’s just about in it

Even though I’ve already come out in support of Gary Johnson, I have to admit that I’m kind of glad to see Ron Paul make this step forward.  There are plenty of arguments in support (or against) either of the pro-liberty candidates we’re looking to have.  I have my opinions, and other folks have theirs.  It’s all good.  However, having two candidates may well work out for the best for everyone.

I’ve been as guilty as anyone of thinking that the liberty movement can really only support one guy.  In reality, that still remains to be seen.  While Johnson is somewhat more likely to resonate better with independents and moderates, Paul will resonate better with the Tea Party groups.  This adds a somewhat more diverse mix listening to the pro-freedom messages of both candidates.

Yes, eventually one candidate will probably bow out.  Let’s face it, the odds aren’t great that even one of these men will win the nomination.  The odds aren’t particularly great that both will make it all the way to the convention.  One will, more likely admit defeat and probably endorse the other one.  It doesn’t really matter either way.  You see, those who liked the message of one are far more likely to find plenty to like in the other anyways.

The pro-liberty movement will, eventually, settle behind one of the two.  Yes, I do believe the best man is Johnson, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support Paul if Johnson bowed out.  I can’t think of any other Johnson supporters who wouldn’t do the same.  Truth be told, I suspect the same can be said of Paul supporters as well.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.