Libertarians Know How to Swing

Cato’s David
and AFF’s David
have a fascinating new study out on trends
among the voting public, charting the recent swing in major-party support by the

Analyzing data from the Gallup
Poll, the Pew Research Center,
and the American National Election Studies, we find that about 13 percent of
the electorate and 15 percent of actual voters are libertarian — not
libertarian in the Mill-Hayek-Cato intellectual sense, but distinguishable from
both liberals and conservatives on questions about values and issues. “They are
a larger share of the electorate than the fabled ‘soccer moms’ and ‘NASCAR
dads,’” we note.

Perhaps the most interesting news
for political strategists is that libertarians swing. “Libertarians preferred
George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 percent to 20 percent, but Bush’s margin
dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry. Congressional voting showed a similar
swing from 2002 to 2004.” In House races, the libertarian vote for Republicans
dropped from 73 percent in 2000 to 53 percent in 2004, while the libertarian
vote for Democrats increased from 23 to 44 percent. There was a similar swing
in Senate races.

This leads naturally into the topic of last night’s AFF
Roundtable, Election
2006: Do Republicans Deserve to Lose?
Stay tuned for the podcast,
coming soon.