Campaigns/Elections

There's Libertarian—and then there's libertarian

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The New York Times reports on "Libertarians Dream of Being the Tie-Breaker," featuring a misidentified yours truly. Snippets:

"We are in the beginning of a libertarian moment," said Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason, the libertarian monthly….

There is the Libertarian Party and then there is the libertarian—small-"L"—state of mind. Those who do not necessarily vote with the party but identify with some of the core libertarian philosophy—a small government with minimal reach into people's personal lives, and minimal foreign entanglements—may be a potent, if unpredictable, group of voters….

According to the poll, conducted by InsiderAdvantage, 8 percent of registered voters said they would vote for [Libertarian Party presidential candidate] Mr. Barr in a matchup against Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama in November. (Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama received 45 percent and 35 percent in the poll, respectively.)

More here.

For the record, Matt Welch is the editor in chief of reason magazine. I'm the editor of reason.tv and reason online.

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  1. I am delighted that the NYT noticed that libertarians exist and that there are some packaging differences amongst the enlightened. I am excited that 8% of the populace might vote for Barr. But I’ve been excited before and 8% seems wildly optimistic. Should I bring up Ed Clark? OTOH, RP has touched a nerve and brought together some folks who are pretty disgusted with current management.

    And yes, Matt is Da Man, but it takes a while for the word to get around.

  2. How well the LP does in the election, will depend on whether we can get past a few stumbling blocks. I expect we will clear the fund raising hurdle. Getting the media to cover us is another matter. Then there’s the big prize, bullying our way into the debates. If Barr can do that, and if he doesn’t screw it up on stage, I’ll be dancing.

  3. Nick, I am interested in why you feel we are at the beginning of a libertarian moment. I just don’t see it, instead I see people working to make sure their priorities are addressed by government and that seems to always include more government interference. I hope you are right, but after a while libertarians (actual LP members or just like minded people) start to sound a lot like soccer fans. Every time the World Cup rolls around we hear “This is the year Americans embrace soccer” and every 4 years at election time we seem to hear about people being sick of government and this is when the Libertarian Party is going to make a good showing. I’m sure I sound cynical but I’ve heard all of it before.

  4. (paraphrasing the NRA sticker here… “Charlton Heston is my President”)

    Nick Gillespie is my editor.

  5. 8%? During what should be Barr’s honeymoon period, after unprecedented (for the LP) publicity? I predict him maybe doubling the vote achieved by the last LP candidate once people realize that should can just vote GOP instead of GOP Jr.

    PS At this point in 1992 Perot had 39%. That’s impressive for a third party.

  6. For the record, Matt Welch is the editor in chief of reason magazine. I’m the editor of reason.tv and reason online.

    At least they spelled your name correctly.

  7. I wonder what the overlap is between libertarians and soccer fans. Anecdotally, I’d say there’s quite a bit.

  8. Worldwide, I’d guess there to be 0 or more likely a negative correlation between libertarianism & interest in soccer, age adjusted. If you don’t adjust for age, there may be a positive correlation just because youth is positively correlated with both sports interest and lack of authoritarianism.

  9. Nobody cares about Not-America, Robert.

  10. According to the poll, conducted by InsiderAdvantage, 8 percent of registered voters said they would vote for [Libertarian Party presidential candidate] Mr. Barr in a matchup against Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama in November. (Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama received 45 percent and 35 percent in the poll, respectively.)

    Sheesh, McCain by 10? I doubt that holds up.

    Still, doesn’t this look like Barr is siphoning off the anti-statists from the Dems’ anti-war pool?

  11. Oh, okay, this is just Georgia. That makes more sense.

  12. People tend to say they’re going to vote third party, because they’re disgusted with the major party choices — until shortly before they walk into the voting booth and vote for the perceived lesser of two evils.

    Had an interesting talk with my mother recently, who said that I should vote for McCain rather than Bob Barr, because voting for an LP candidate would be “throwing my vote away”. I countered that by her logic, since I live in Hawaii where Obama would win by a landslide, I would need to vote for Obama because a vote for McCain would be throwing my vote away. And that all my siblings should vote for Obama too because they live in strong Blue states, too.

    Then she changed the subject.

  13. That “throwing your vote away” thing is a nice piece of sophistry, though.

  14. Prolefeed, excellent points.

    As a young person who has only voted once for President before, I figured that “anybody-but-Bush” was better than Bush. Now I wish I had voted for someone else, even in MN where Kerry won a fairly close race.

    I’m over the “wasting your vote” argument. Most states are either red or blue, and people still come out and vote for the candidate they know will lose. But if you vote for someone that will clearly lose that isn’t well-known, suddenly it’s more of a waste?

    Plus, with Barr this time, nothing will be wasted as every vote he gets will be a vote that Republican strategists will have to ponder over how they lost and what they must do to get them back next time (hint- nominate someone who wants limited government).

  15. prolefeed-Well, you brought up the problem with the Electoral College. Most states will clearly go for one candidate or the other; the swing states are the only ones that “matter”.

    In some ways, this actually boosts third-party turnout. Let me use myself as a personal example.

    I’m a fairly strong partisan Democrat with some libertarian leanings, especially in terms of the first amendment. In 2000, I knew Lieberman was a boob even then, and the combination of his culture warrior ass plus the husband of the woman who got the PARENTAL ADVISORY labels on record albums was a too anti-first amendment ticket for me to vote for. At the time, I thought Bush would be benign like his daddy-but I don’t vote for Republicans. So, I voted for Harry Browne instead.

    HOWEVER, if I lived in Florida I probably would have held my nose and voted for Gore. As it was, my California vote was worthless, so I could afford the “luxury” of having my vote not affect the outcome of the election.

  16. Oh, and if the election was a straight winner-take-all election, I would have voted for Gore.

    The electoral college artifically boosts third party vote totals by encouraging protest votes. The fact that the Libertarian Party has never gotten above 1% or so even with that is kinda sad, really.

  17. In fact, you are only throwing your vote away if your vote of conscience and best judgment is NOT tallied or reported (which, I believe, occurs if you write in someone who isn’t “eligible” as a write-in candidate). To work correctly in the people’s best interests, the system needs to register dissenting and protest votes as much as it needs to determine a “winner” of the contest. People fixate on the contest/horse-race function of the election, and often ignore or deliberately subvert the other crucial function of gauging (however crudely) the public will and tempering the mandate of the winner.

  18. prolefeed-Well, you brought up the problem with the Electoral College. Most states will clearly go for one candidate or the other; the swing states are the only ones that “matter”.

    That isn’t a problem is the EC; it’s a problem with “winner take all”.

    thanks for playing, though.

  19. Libertarians,
    LIBERTARIANS
    Libertarians
    Libertarians
    Libertarians

    And then there’s SuV!jv+j39!7

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