Friday, October 13, 2006

Libertarians are big time swingers.

The fundamentalist libertarian won’t necessarily agree with the following but it appears that about 13 or 14 percent of all Americans are libertarian inclined. Others argue it could be as high as 20 percent. That is they support economic and social freedom both to a fairly strong degree. And now a new study by the Cato Institute says it may be these voters who are most likely to shift party preferences.

They argue that when the race for president was between Al Gore and George Bush that 72 percent of the libertarian inclined voted for Bush and 20 percent for Gore. But Bush lost a good number of those voters by his second run for the throne, ooops, I mean White House. Then his support dropped to 59 percent while John Kerry almost doubled the number of libertarians voting Democrat, up to 38 percent.

And when you look within the voting for the Left and Right candidates you find libertarians in large numbers in both camps. For instance among Bush voters polls should that 28 million of them “support either marriage of civil unions for same-sex couples--not your stereotypical ‘red’ voters.” And some 17 million Kerry voters would support, according to polls, the idea that government should not “do more to solve problems.” In fact almost 30 percent of Kerry voters said they agreed with the statement “The less government the better.”

The willingness to shift party support is also indicated by how libertarian inclined voters voted in regards to Congress. In 2002 only 15 percent said they voted for a Democrat for the Senate but in 2004 it had increased to 43 percent, almost tripled. And libertarians who voted Democratic in regards to the House almost doubled from 23 percent to 44 percent.

Libertarian voters tended to be younger than average, wealther than average, more likely to vote, better educated and much less religious.

Here is how libertarians (on the left) stack up against the general public (on the right).

Male 59% 48%
Female 52% 41%

White 82% 80%
Black 7% 12%

$75,000+ 31% 21%
$50,000+ 10% 14%
$30,000+ 18% 22%
$20,000+ 14% 14%
<$20,000 14% 17%

College grad 30% 27%
H.S or less 43% 49%

18-29 33% 21%
30-49 36% 39%
50-64 21% 22%
64+ 9% 16%

Evangelical 9% 21%
Secular 12% 8%
Never attend 35% 25%

You can download a pdf of the full report here.