Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Libertarian Vote

Certain reader's have previously emphatically stated that Libertarians wouldn't vote Democrat. Well, looks like there's some evidence that he didn't know what he was talking about.
In our study, "The Libertarian Vote," we analyzed 16 years of polling data and found that libertarians constituted 13 percent of the electorate in 2004. Because libertarians are better educated and more likely to vote, they were 15 percent of actual voters.

Libertarians are broadly defined as people who favor less government in both economic and personal issues. They might be summed up as "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" 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.

Well, what do you know, I was right. Libertarians do poll over a spectrum of beliefs and thus do vote on both sides of the two party system.

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