Libertarian-Leaning Young Voters Unthrilled By Major Parties

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A plague a' both your houses!

Youthful voters who turned out in droves to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 will still likely favor him this presidential election, but without the numbers or enthusiasm the incumbent might wish, says pollster John Zogby. And it's not just disillusionment with a candidate who failed to deliver on impossible promises; Americans in the 18-29 "First Globals" age bracket are drifting away from the Coke vs. Pepsi battle of competing authoritarianisms offered by the Democrats and Republicans, and in a generally libertarian ideological direction.

Writing at Forbes, Zogby reports that First Globals favor — or, really, have less disdain for — Democrats over Republicans. But:

[O]n some key issues, majorities of First Globals are not doctrinaire liberals. The poll found less than majorities agree with liberals on   some of their most cherished beliefs.  For example: 44% agree health insurance is a right government should provide for those who can't afford it, 43% agree with the same statement about food and shelter, 37% agree government should spend more to reduce poverty, 20% agree government spending is an effective way to economic growth and 28% agree government should do more to curb climate change even at the expense of economic growth. (That last number has to hurt environmentalists.)

Lest Republicans get too giddy at those findings, they should also know less than majorities agree with these conservative and neo-con ideals: 22% agree it's sometimes necessary to attack potentially hostile countries rather than waiting until we are attacked, 23% are willing to give up some personal freedoms for the sake of national security, 39% agree cutting taxes is an effective route to economic growth, 24% agree we should eliminate all barriers to trade, 25% agree recent immigration has done more harm than good, 21% agree religious values should play an important role in government and 25% agree homosexuality is morally wrong.

These attitudes betraying both the traditional left and right fall generally within the bounds of libertarianism.

Zogby's definition of libertarianism in this context is, admittedly, really, really broad. Let me add another "really." But there's a strong sense of live and let live in the survey results, and powerful skepticism aimed at government. A peek at the Harvard University Institute of Politics survey from which Zogby draws his numbers is even more encouraging. For instance, for a cohort among which only a relatively few have begun to deal with the demands of parenting and dickering with education bureaucracies, a surprisingly strong (to me) 37% believe "if parents had more freedom to choose where they could send their children to school, the education system in this country would be better."

Also:

Over the 12 months since our last poll on this subject was released, of the 15 issues that we
tested, only one has changed outside the margin of error: 18- to 29- year olds have become less supportive of the concept that basic health insurance is a right for all people, and if
someone has no means of paying for it, the government should provide it.

The results of a hypothetical three-way presidential matchup including Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul give "Obama, 41 percent (losing 2 points from a one-on-one matchup); Romney, 18 percent (losing 9 points); Paul, 13 percent with 27 percent undecided."

Overall, the survey suggests that, while Zogby may be correct in seeing a chance of some young voters "abandoning both parties and instead choosing the Libertarian candidate," the bigger read is declining faith in grandiose government solutions, increasing protectiveness for civil liberties and growing tolerance. That may not be explicit libertarianism, but I'll take it.

Let me insert a plug here for this rather interesting book I stumbled across that seems relevant to this topic: The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America. Has anybody heard of it?

NEXT: Nude TSA-Protesting Man Will Fight Charges Because as Campaign For Liberty and Rand Paul Put it: "the government literally has its hands in our pants."

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  1. So which is it: The young ‘uns are going to (reluctantly) support Obama again, or they are drifting libertarian-ward?

    Because I don’t think they can have it both ways.

    But there’s a strong sense of live and let live in the survey results, and powerful skepticism aimed at government.

    Stated preference. Always to be discarded when it conflicts with revealed preference (in the form of voting for Obama. Again.)

    1. A very good friend of mine, a former work wife, no less, swears she’s a libertarian, but likeslikeslikes the Big Zero.

      I never bothered spending too much time on it with her, but there is a definite disconnect between what a libertarian is and what the yout’ thinks it means.

    2. Being individuals, were all going to do something different with different motivations, just like everyone else.

      1. *chants* yes, we’re all different!

        *man in back* I’m not!

      2. Are you saying you’re unique, just like everyone else?

        1. Quite a conundrum isn’t it?

          1. I am pleased to see the main idea behind Socialistic Individualism being promoted by others.

    3. What’s particularly pathetic is the tiny percentage who would switch from Obama to Ron Paul in a three-way matchup.

      Almost all persuadable Ron Paul voters are already willing to vote Romney as least worst.

    4. You know there are more than one Yutes, right? And they are distinct people and everything?

  2. Yaaaaaaaaay! Someone finally pimped the book!

    Now if you could go tell the authors to do the same…

  3. Only in the world today would 56% be considered “a strong sense of live and let live in the survey results, and powerful skepticism aimed at government”

  4. These attitudes betraying both the traditional left and right fall generally within the bounds of libertarianism.

    Really?

  5. Thanks for that pic, Tuccille. That which has been seen….

    1. I thought somebody might like that …

      1. It’s like someone condensed Absolutely Fabulous into a single repulsive image.

        1. It’s too bad the picture did show the brick wall that she’s screaming into.

          1. And I hear I thought it was the ugly chick from the Goonies.

            1. WTF homonyms and extra pronouns.

  6. These numbers are actually depressing, unless they are historically better than young generations on average.

    1. Agree. Only 37% think increased education choices will lead to increased education system??!!

    2. Yeah and ” 28% agree government should do more to curb climate change even at the expense of economic growth.”

      GOOD GOD

      1. I would expect that # to be a lot worse, at least with this age demographic. Hopefully it means cap and trade is forever dead in the water.

  7. Is that ghoul in the picture internetfamous now? It resembles a picture I saw on Facebook of a vile creature with an “Eat The Rich” sign.

    1. Looks more like she’d be scurrying around eating rats out of the sewer.

      1. I wish I hadn’t taken a sip of water before reading that. “Scurrying” did me in.

        1. Droppin’ visuals in yo brain!

          1. The resemblance to a C.H.U.D is uncanny.

            1. Nah. CHUD’s eyes glow in the dark.

              1. Has this, erm, lovely bird ever been photographed in the dark?

              2. Has this, erm, lovely bird ever been photographed in the dark?

              3. Has this, erm, lovely bird ever been photographed in the dark?

                1. Speaking of scurrying…

                  1. Good point, doc. Could be one of the few critters that gets uglier as the light gets dimmer.

  8. 44% agree health insurance is a right government should provide for those who can’t afford it, 43% agree with the same statement about food and shelter, 37% agree government should spend more to reduce poverty, 20% agree government spending is an effective way to economic growth and 28% agree government should do more to curb climate change even at the expense of economic growth.

    Those numbers are still way higher than I’d like. They still show a pretty high degree of confidence in government’s ability to “solve” the poverty problem, and far too high a percentage of young people who don’t really understand the definition of a “right”. Not to mention far to high a degree of economic illiteracy.

    1. They’re young and fresh out of government indoctrination centers.
      They haven’t had enough real world experience with government to discover that these people they worship are a bunch of fucking idiots.

      1. It was my experience of them first hand at the government indoctrination centers that I learned they were all fucking idiots in the first place.

      2. “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” – Winston Churchill

        1. So, I’m heartless and brainless?

    2. Just wait till they get their first real job out of college and Uncle Sam fucks them over in taxes to pay for these things when they have student loans, car payments, rent, and possibly a new family to pay for.

      1. Nothing will change, since they will blame the other tribe for stealing their water and cattle.

        1. And the rest on AGW and CORPORAYSHUNZ whilst demanding the taxpayer bail them out of their STOODENT LOANZ!one!!!

          1. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m hoping they do that 10-10 plan for the student loans. My daughter’s going to go to the finest medical school practically free. Because I understand economics.

      2. They wouldn’t have to pay taxes if the rich paid their fair share.

        1. and what they do pay buys policemen, trees and sunshine.

  9. Apathetic Progressives are still progressives. Until they change their voting habits, then none of this matter.

    But hey I guess if divine intervention occurs and Johnson might make it into the debates, we might see even more percentage changes.

    Liberaltarians Unite!

    1. Liberaltarians Unite!

      All 24 of us!

    2. Isn’t Liberaltarian just another word for “Fraud?”

  10. 39% agree cutting taxes is an effective route to economic growth, 24% agree we should eliminate all barriers to trade,

    Not very libertarian.

  11. “Obama, 41 percent (losing 2 points from a one-on-one matchup); Romney, 18 percent (losing 9 points); Paul, 13 percent with 27 percent undecided.”

    That’s pathetic. Obama only loses 2 points to Ron Paul with a three way matchup? That’s really, really bad news for libertarians.

    That’s evidence that the younguns don’t view libertarianism as “independence” but rather as Right-wing.

    1. The effective practical argument to becoming more libertarian is winning voters. That poll suggests that the Republicans would not gain voters (among the young) by moving in a Ron Paul direction.

      1. (practical argument to the GOP for becoming more libertarian)

      2. Yeah, but moving libertarian is a defensive move for the Repubs, to keep that big chunk (1/3 of Romney voters) on the reservation.

        1. Yes, but that’s just the old “libertarians are one part of the three legged stool of the GOP” argument. Not the new fancy “libertarians are the new independents / swing voters” theory that’s, oh, in the book being plugged.

  12. 94% of young people will reluctantly pull the Obama lever, down from an enthusiastic 97%.

    We’re winning!

  13. pull the Obama lever

    Is that what they’re calling it now?

  14. Is that dude for real? I mean seriously?

    http://www.Privacy-Dudes.tk

  15. 44% agree health insurance is a right government should provide for those who can’t afford it,

    So then 56% agree that health insurance is NOT a right government should provide for those who can’t afford it,

    43% agree with the same statement about food and shelter,

    And 57% agree that food and shelter are also NOT rights government should provide for those who can’t afford it.

    37% agree government should spend more to reduce poverty,

    63% agree government should NOT spend more to reduce poverty,

    20% agree government spending is an effective way to economic growth

    80% agree government spending is NOT an effective way to economic growth

    28% agree government should do more to curb climate change even at the expense of economic growth

    72% agree government should NOT do more to curb climate change even at the expense of economic growth

    Just a thought…

    1. Except for probably 80% of the people who didn’t agree are “not sure” and if pressed at least half would agree.

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