Over at Cato's At Liberty blog, David Kirby of Freedom Works says that when it comes to grabbing votes from libertarian-minded voters, Mitt Romney is approaching "a high water mark for Republican presidential candidates in recent elections."
Who counts as a libertarian? Kirby explains:
Using three questions, we can define libertarians as respondents who believe "the less government the better," who prefer the "free market" to handle problems, and who want government to "favor no particular set of values." These fiscally conservative, socially liberal voters represent 20% of the public in the [latest] Reason-Rupe poll, in line with previous estimates.
Here's a chart that Kirby, a frequent collaborator with Reason's polling director Emily Ekins, put together. In a race featuring Romney, President Obama, and Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, the Republican pulls a whopping 70 percent of the vote. As interesting (to me at least!) is that Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico. After a series of seriously meh candidates, the LP has put forth its best offering in forever.
Romney's vote share may be more a libertarian vote against Obama than for Romney. Few libertarians were excited about Romney in the Republican primary. Indeed, Romney's deficit among libertarian voters may well have been part of the campaign's strategic calculation of adding Paul Ryan to the ticket. If so, it seems to be working.
Read the latest Reason-Rupe national poll, released just last week, which is full of great information not just about the presidential horse race but attitudes toward Medicare, drug legalization, tax reform, and more.