Libertarianism

Poll: 11 Percent of Americans Identify as Libertarian

That's 14 percent of political independents, 12 percent of Republicans, and 6 percent of Democrats.

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Even the Pew Research Center has gotten caught up in this libertarian moment debate. The organization conducted a poll, as it does, and found that some 11 percent of Americans self-identify as "libertarian", including 14 percent of political independents, 12 percent of Republicans, and 6 percent of Democrats. 

The findings come from Pew's political typology and polarization survey and its American Trends Panel survey, both conducted earlier this year. Respondents were asked whether the term libertarian describes them well and, in a separate question, asked to choose whether "someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government" would be correctly described as a libertarian, progressive, authoritarian, Unitarian, or communist. About 14 percent of respondents self-described as libertarian, but only 11 percent both said so and could properly identify the term. 

Of this 11 percent, men were (shock!) more prevalent than women. About 15 percent of all male respondents identified as libertarian and knew what the term meant, compared to 7 percent of female respondents.

Read more of the Pew survey findings here

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11 responses to “Poll: 11 Percent of Americans Identify as Libertarian

  1. Interesting. And the age breakdown isn’t as millennial-heavy as I would have expected.

    1. It does make me wonder though, would a sizable percentage of the 57% that “correctly defined” libertarian as “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government,” simply identify that group as “conservative”?

      It nevertheless demonstrates a decent amount of familiarity with the term.

      1. Over 20 yrs. ago when I randomly polled people by phone here in the Bronx, most when asked open-endedly what they thought “libertarian” meant, correctly said it had to do with liberty. You don’t already have to be familiar with the term, it makes sense etymologically so people know what it means.

  2. About 15 percent of all male respondents identified as libertarian and knew what the term meant, compared to 7 percent of female respondents.

    Apparently women are more honest than men.

  3. From the Pew article:

    Libertarianism is associated with limited government involvement in the social sphere. In this regard, self-described libertarians are somewhat more supportive of legalizing marijuana than the public overall (65% vs. 54%).

    Alternative take: 35% of self-described libertarians aren’t libertarians.

    1. Hell, it’s worse than that:

      And they are about as likely as others to favor allowing the police “to stop and search anyone who fits the general description of a crime suspect” (42% of libertarians, 41% of the public).

    2. So you assume “libertarian” to mean favoring liberty in every single instance rather than generally or more than avg.? Is that how descriptors of all tendencies work?

      1. I’m not generally big on litmus tests, but I would consider marijuana legalization to be pretty close to one. Throw in the 42% who favor warrantless searches, and I have no idea what other conclusion I’m expected to draw except that many of these people who claim to know the definition of libertarian are incorrect.

        1. I think you’re expecting too much conformity on either a clustered or self-identified class. Does there deserve to be a separate word for a class of people or things that are, say, 75% along the lines that you’d characterize as of a certain class, but in the 25% of characteristics that don’t match your model, a “litmus test” exists?

          Categoriz’n isn’t always easy. Sometimes a “litmus test” is appropriate. For instance, if someone’s answers fit 99% of the stereotypes of male homosexuals, but the person isn’t male or doesn’t like sex with other males, then it doesn’t make sense to call the person a male homosexual. However, for things like socio-political tendencies, I don’t think having any single answer outweigh all the others makes sense.

  4. The ‘study’ is drivel, and misses key distinctions as between small-l and Large-L Libs for starters.

    For actual data on what people in the movement are doing, please see the Libertarian International at http://www.libertarianinternational.org

    1. Maybe what you mean is that it fails to distinguish extreme/radical from moderate libertarians. That doesn’t make it drivel, any more than studies identifying other tendencies that exist in both extreme & moderate forms.

      Or do you mean it’s drivel for some other reason?

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