As Nick Gillespie flagged earlier this week, the Pew Center has a big and interesting new study out called "Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology," the latest in an every-six-years look at changing political subgroups. The newly identified and ascendant typological tribe known as "Libertarians," the study concluded, represents 9 percent of the population, and is classified as both "Republican-oriented," and (along with the GOP-leaning "Disaffected" and Democratic-oriented "Post-Moderns") as being more independent than other political groups. In fact, here's how much more independent libertarians are than the other two GOP-leaning groups, "Staunch Conservatives" and "Main Street Republicans":
In general, and as we've been telling you, independents have all the mo':
Pew Research Center polling over the first quarter of 2011 finds 37% of Americans identifying as independents, up from 30% in 2005 and 35% last year. Over the past 70 years, the only other time that independent identification reached a similar level was in 1992, the year when Ross Perot was a popular independent presidential candidate.
Linger on that a bit—Ross Perot was a charismatic famous person with no real organization, while the modern-day independent blocs tend to be all organization, no leader. This I-revival seems more built to last.
So how does Pew describe Libertarians? Like this:
Much less religious than other GOP-oriented groups, Libertarians are relatively comfortable financially– nearly half (46%) say they are professional or business class, among the highest of the typology groups.
Defining values: Highly critical of government. Disapprove of social welfare programs. Pro-business and strongly opposed to regulation. Accepting of homosexuality. Moderate views about immigrants compared with other Republican-oriented groups. [...]
Who they are: Most (85%) are non-Hispanic white and two-thirds (67%) are male. Well educated (71% have attended college) and affluent (39% have incomes of $75,000 or more).
Lifestyle notes: Less likely than other GOP groups to attend church weekly (26%). More than half (56%) use social networking sites, and 46% have a gun in the household. 54% currently have a U.S. passport. 36% trade stocks. 38% regularly watch Fox News and 17% regularly listen to NPR.
Dat you? I, uh, use social networking sites and have a passport!
The quiz they use (take it here!) to determine these categories is a festivel of hoo-larious false choices, but even though I declined to answer a majority of them, it still managed to shoehorn me into Planet Libertarian. Let us know how you do.
Independents, libertarians, and their overlap are a main subject of the forthcoming and eminently pre-orderable The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, the best Gillespie/Welch mash-up since the 1882 Troy Trojans. They're also featured heavily in our first-ever Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey, which I'll be talking about on Judge Andrew Napolitano's great Freedom Watch program on Fox Business Network tonight at 8 pm EDT.