Millennials

Millennials Are More Likely to Identify as Libertarians. Why That's Good News for Rand Paul.

1 in 5 say yes to libertarianism.

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A new poll turned up some exciting evidence that the Libertarian Moment has indeed arrived—at least for the under-30 crowd. About 1 in 5 millennials self-describe as libertarians, according to YouGov results released last week.

The poll found that 20 percent of respondents ages 18-29 identify as libertarians. Another 42 percent were unsure whether they were libertarians, and 39 percent rejected the label outright. Libertarianism had its strongest showing among young people: only 17 percent of 30-44 year-olds, 15 percent of 45-64 year-olds, and 9 percent of the 65+ crowd self-identified as libertarians.

Self-described libertarians are a remarkably—and delightfully—nonpartisan group. Roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats said they considered themselves libertarians (13 percent and 12 percent, respectively). At 19 percent, Independents were the most likely political group to align with libertarianism.

YouGov described the majority of Americans as sympathetic to libertarianism but sketchy on some of its specifics:

Most Americans (51%) agree with the core idea of libertarianism that smaller governments are better governments, but that they are less convinced about other ideas common in libertarian circles. Americans tend to disagree (46%) rather than agree (34%) with the idea that poverty is generally more a result of individual failing than social problems. A large majority of Americans (68%) also agree with the idea that people occasionally need to be saved from themselves, something somewhat at odds with the libertarian idea that people should be free to do what they want, even if it damages them, as long as they are not hurting others. 

The poll supports something Nate Silver wrote about libertarians and the electorate last week in response to Paul Krugman's assertion that Rand Paul's candidacy will fail because practically no one is a libertarian. Here is a relevant section from Silver's post, titled "There Are Few Libertarians. But Many Have Libertarian Views.":

Take two issues that are taken as emblematic of the split between liberal and conservative viewpoints: gay marriage and income inequality. If Krugman is right, you should see few Americans who are in favor of same-sex marriage but oppose government efforts to reduce income inequality, or vice versa.

As it turns out, however, there are quite a number of them; about 4 in 10 Americans have "inconsistent" views on these issues. …

The rigidly partisan views of political elites should not be mistaken for the relatively malleable and diverse ones that American voters hold.

It's of course wrong to pretend that libertarianism is on the verge of total triumph, no matter how well Paul does. But it's also wrong to pretend that libertarianism is making no progress whatsoever. Millennials, it seems, are increasingly willing to reconsider the awkward and inconsistent political pairings of their parents' and grandparents' generation. That's why libertarianism has virtually replaced conservatism as the alternative to leftism for college students involved in political advocacy. And it's why I expect Paul's campaign to generate more enthusiasm from younger voters, despite him being an imperfect conduit of libertarian sentiments.

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  1. I hope someone polls the Millennials to see what they think.

    1. I’d prefer someone cane them.

  2. So, what do they think about homegrown tobacco?

    1. They’re in favor, if you call it artisanal.

      1. I read that as artsi-anal, and yet still agreed with the comment.

  3. The poll found that 20 percent of respondents ages 18-29 identify as libertarians.

    And by “libertarian” they mean: “Gimme lots of free shit so I can spend my free time on whatever vice is my chosen pastime”.

    1. Yup. I was going to say: “The bad news is that Millenials don’t actually know what ‘libertarian’ means”.

      1. Doesn’t it mean Somalia, shitty roads, and child trafficking?

        1. I think it means gluten-free internet service. I’d look it up, but I’m boycotting Google.

            1. “Gimme lots of free shit so I can spend my free time on whatever vice is my chosen pastime”.

              The democratic party plank?

      2. Not every young person wants to suckle at a chapped government teet.

        1. There exceptions to every millennial poll.

    2. I assume they’re all like the EFF– leave us alone unless you’re making someone give us high speed Netflix or only using the DCMA to take down the wrong kind of content.


    3. And by “libertarian” they mean: “Gimme lots of free shit so I can spend my free time on whatever vice is my chosen pastime”.

      To be fair, we learned it from the boomers.

      1. You notice it skipped a generation?

      2. Yes, but the boomers thought that’s what it meant to be a hippie. Then they grew up and decided that’s what it meant to be a progressive.

    4. Yes. I keep looking for the follow-up poll that determines how many of them know what the actually means.

  4. 46 percent rejected the label outright

    Robby- that’s the 30-44 results. 18-29 had 39% rejected outright and 42% unsure.

    1. My mistake. Thanks for catching that. It’s fixed.

      1. You’ve got the correct numbers now, but flipped in the categories:

        Another 39 percent were unsure whether they were libertarians, and 42 percent rejected the label outright

        1. LEAVE HIM ALONE, THE ALT-TEXT WAS PERFECT!!!

          1. Notice I didn’t insult him when I was pointing it out? That’s how you know I liked the alt-text.

        2. I realized that almost immediately and changed it. Thanks

        3. TIWTANLW(riters)

          1. If only he had a MA in Journalism from Columbia

  5. “Millennials Are More Likely to Identify as Libertarians. Why That’s Good News for Rand Paul.”

    Does the answer have anything to do with deep-dish pizza or circumcisions?

  6. Polls. Millennals. Libertarianism. You’re welcome.

    Damn, the alt-text today really has been top notch overall.

    1. it must poll well with Millenials

    2. Next up: edit button.

      1. Only in the ALt-Text.

    3. Yeah, did the staff collectively decide to try a new brand of coffee, or what? It’s been commentariat appreciation day in the alt-text so far!

      For the record, this is much appreciated and thank you, all!

  7. “That’s why libertarianism has virtually replaced conservatism as the alternative to leftism for college students

    this is misunderstood –

    the most popular alternative to ‘leftism’ on campus is ‘progressive’;

    and the next most-popular is ‘liberalism’,

    and then you’ve got the ‘marxists’ and the ‘green ecosocialists’… and then there’s the Paleocommunitarian Primitivists….

    I think all this is saying is that the “conservatives” are even less popular than they used to be, and that they’ve largely been replaced by some comic-book collecting dope smokers who listen to Devo.

    1. Come in, Gilmore! Have you got the papers the Chinaman gave you?

      1. Yes, Booji. In the past, this information has been suppressed, but now it can be told. Every man, woman, and mutant on this planet shall know the truth about de-evolution.

        1. +2 giant space salamanders

          1. I’m going to put this up to a vote: if you associate Devo with Voyager, should we:

            1) Murder you on the spot
            2) Murder you on the spot
            3) Murder you on the spot
            4) PROFIT
            5) Give you an atomic wedgie and then murder you on the spot
            6) Murder you on the spot and give Warty your corpse to defile

            1. Unpossible premise.

            2. Yes.

              Jocko Homo.

            3. Ok, I’ll bite, why would devo be associated with voyager?

              1. Whoa, slow down, Speedracer. You need a Ton o’ Luv.

              2. Paul, the “+2 space salamander” is a Voyager reference that was in response to my Booji Boy (a Devo character) quote. THAT’S ASSOCIATING!

                1. Whoops, I mean my General Boy quote. He was talking to Booji Boy.

                  1. That’s better than my mistake, Epi, I thought you had typed “… if you assassinate Devo with Voyager….”

                  2. In a parallel dimension, there was a TNG episode where they went to the Planet of the Devolved Men.

          2. On Planet Earth?

    2. I’ve fiven up the dope and comic books were never my thing, but I stand with Devo. Are we not men?

      1. I’m going to have “We Are Men” going through my head all day now. Hang your head in shame.

        1. If it makws you feel better I’ve got Mongoloid stuck in my head because my 1 year old loves Devo (and REM). But you can only listen to so much Lulliby of Journey.

          1. Just admit, Brett, you have Mongolod stuck because it resonates with you.

            Oh shit! I have Big Mess stuck in my head!

            1. I’m tired of all this Devo talk.

              I Desire Deep Sleep.

              1. That’s Good, Timon 19.

                Sleep well knowing It’s a Beautiful World.

                1. I will, Charles. Time to Clockout.

                  Watch out for Secret Agent Man, though!

            2. I saw a cop at lunch and that song just plays in my head now whenever I see cops.

    3. DEVO?

      I suppose you’re through being cool now.

      1. Devo is when you’ve *just started* being cool.

        1. Remember: nobody knows, so let’s find out.

          1. Sort of like, well, Peek-a-Boo?

            1. Of all the Devo songs I could have in my head after all this, I have Ton o’ Luv in there. Odd.

              Maybe I’m channeling John.

  8. Self-described libertarians are a remarkably?and delightfully?nonpartisan group.

    Don’t you almost have to be to be a libertarian?

    1. Yes and no.

      I think that the more an individual learns about libertarian principles, the more nonpartisan they are likely to be.

      I would think that most libertarians come from one of the two major political parties, and so they’re likely to carry over some of that baggage.

      1. ‘I would think that most libertarians come from one of the two major political parties”

        I started off voting for Ross Perot.

        And I only got weirder after that.

        1. My first vote in a presidential election was for Bob Dole. I was a very strange child.

        2. My first vote was for the person my mother told me to vote for, because I didn’t care and she wanted to therefore “use” my vote. Which told me a lot about the whole voting thing very early on.

        3. I voted for Harry Browne. No regrets, brah. YOLO

        4. I started off voting for Ross Perot.

          And I only got weirder after that.

          My first elementary school fake vote went to Perot. Unfortunately, my first real vote went to the man whose last name corresponds to 70s era pubic grooming standards or crappy British Seattle-sound knockoff bands.

          I’ve since repented.

      2. Oh sure, being a former Republican I assume they are too incompetent to be successfully evil.

      3. I think that the more an individual learns about libertarian principles, the more nonpartisan they are likely to be.

        That is kind of my point, the more libertarian you are, the less partisan.

        1. Libertarians are an odd bunch that let principles trump principals.

  9. Also =

    Am i the only person who thinks this is the most hilariously-oblivious-of-itself headline *ever*?

    Nearly half of Americans think North shares responsibility for Civil War

    strapline: “Views Vary by Geographic Region”

    1. Um…what? It’s unsettling that so many people view history as a simple morality play.

      1. Maybe I just think its hilarious that someone could refer to a “Civil War” and express surprise that *anyone might still have different opinions about it*.

        the “nearly half” line just amplifies how blithely unaware the author seems to be of their subject matter.

    2. I think that the Union could have avoided the Civil War by immediately recognizing the Confederacy. So, yeah. Definitely shared responsibility.

      1. Of course, you know believing that makes you a horrible RAYCISS!!1

  10. Polls showed that Americans identify themselves more as conservative than liberal and considered themselves religious. Obama still won two elections.

    You have to ask the right kind of questions. If you merely ask “Are you libertarian” or “Do you support smaller government” you’ll get a good amount of yeses. But if the questions are more specific, the response will be more evenly split. The OWS kids probably thought they were “libertarian” because they hate droning, spying, and the federal reserve.

    But being anti-authority anarchist doesn’t make you libertarian. I bet these so called libertarian have no issues with single payer and student loan bailouts.

    Not that many people REALLY like the concept of a smaller government that does only the most essential things. Especially in a country like this, where most of the population gets something while playing nothing.

    1. I guess it comes down to what people think is “essential”.

      1. Their free stuff, of course.

    2. Very well said, XM. I always find these polls a bit frustrating as given actual results, the computer models just never quite align.

      The whole “intersection” with libertarians and the OWS kids was always a chimera in my opinion.

      To throw something out that I think is worth thinking about: Americans were supposedly concerned with NSA spying and mass internet data collection. Or response was to give the government greater control of the internet, and allow it to determine how isps will design and build their networks.

      1. I always find these polls a bit frustrating as given actual results, the computer models just never quite align.

        That’s because Ron and Rand Paul are EXTREME SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES!!1!

      2. Broadband & Netflix = Bread & Circuses

        1. It really is. I mean, that’s so apt I’ll borrow that for my RL conversations. I’ll try to give credit.

    3. XM|4.13.15 @ 3:01PM|#
      “[…]But being anti-authority anarchist doesn’t make you libertarian. I bet these so called libertarian have no issues with single payer and student loan bailouts.[…]”

      Gee, it might take someone actually *THINKING* about what that label encompasses to have the poll mean anything.
      ‘I hate the cops, but I want my free shit, man…’

  11. I go away for a few minutes and you see what happens? Another libertarian moment.

  12. Jeez, only 17% disagreed that “people sometimes need to be saved from themselves.”

    1. Perhaps they might answer differently if the question was phrased differently.

      Like “People sometimes need to be saved from themselves by men who use violence without consequence, who will cheerfully murder anyone who doesn’t obey their every whim?

      1. – 1 proofread

    2. That is a disturbing statistic.

      It shouldn’t be anyone’s business how I choose to slowly die on this planet.

      1. Look. We’re all in this together. Everything everyone does affects everyone else. Harmful behavior costs society, so we have a duty to stop this behavior, even if it is only self destructive. That person engaging in self destructive behavior may cost society by being less productive at work, or by passing their medical bills onto the rest of us. Better that they be locked in prison where they are guaranteed to produce nothing while passing all their costs onto the rest of us. It makes total sense if you don’t think about it.

      2. What if you smoke? Then you’re slowly killing us all, because SHS is more deadlier than asbestos, and smokers are worse than Hitler.

        /Millenial Libertarianism?

    3. Looks like we need to save Nicole from not needing to be saved from herself.

    4. You’ve never cock-blocked a bro from the really crazy chick who wants him to fund a meth party when he’s shit-hammered and has to work at noon? You’re a horrible wingman.

      1. You don’t cock-block, you tag-team.

        /Proper Libertarian Response.

    5. Jeez, only 17% disagreed that “people sometimes need to be saved from themselves.”

      I see nothing wrong with that. Some people do need saving from themselves, but you have to understand that they have to choose to want to be saved, you can’t force them. And some simply can’t be saved, and that is too bad. And government certainly has no business doing it.

    6. It’s the one part of the poll that seems disturbingly accurate, and lines up with actual results.

  13. OT: the 85-year-old that I train dogs with still hasn’t groked that a typo in an email address is not the same as a typo in a snail mail address. He thinks one letter off in an email address is “close enough”.

    SMH.

    1. Does he think goggle.com will bring up a search engine?

      1. Sounds like my work buddy who went looking for a sander and ended up on homodepot.com. Lots of tools, but no sander.

        1. That’s funny.

    2. Haha. I have a gmail account which is first.last@. Sometimes I get mail for the guy who has no dot. Which led to me getting very far out in front with my wife (who never reads her email, much less mine) about why I was getting friend requests from meetwives.com ladies.

      1. Gmail strips out the dots, so your guy just plain doesn’t know his email address. I have the same situation, except instead of horny lonely wives, I get notices when a stupid Scottish version of me defaults on another payday loan.

        1. I get notices when a stupid Scottish version of me defaults on another payday loan.

          But still no inquiries from the authorities about the rape dungeon?

          Whew!

    3. The latest one was an email address that begins with “lawnpro”. He typed it “lawnbro”. LOL.

    4. According to the post office for my area, being exactly on isn’t close enough.

  14. Of libertarian respondents, 41 percent said that the government had a role in regulating business to protect the public interest. Similarly, about 38 percent stated that government assistance to the poor “does more good than harm because people can’t get out of poverty until their basic needs are met.” For foreign policy, 43 percent of libertarians believe that the United States should be more active in world affairs, whereas the public is more skeptical, with only 35 percent believing the same proposition.

    However, the anti-government streak flared up when the question turned to marijuana. A full 65 percent of libertarians are in support of legalizing marijuana, in comparison to only 54 percent of the public.

    The poll results come from a combination of a Pew Research Center polarization survey from earlier this year, and an additional survey from April 29-May 27 with 3,243 adults.

    http://dailycaller.com/2014/08…..-the-term/

    The neocons really damaged the conservative brand name among those desiring a Kosher alternative to liberalism. But true libertarianism, favoring less government AND noninterventionism AND mass immigration will always be a fringe movement.

    1. favoring … mass immigration

      Uh, what?

    2. The numbers in that first paragraph you quoted makes me 100% sure that 0% of the respective 41%, 38% and 43% have any kind of grasp on what “libertarian” means.

  15. One in five Millennials identify as libertarians, and one in five women are raped on college campuses?!

    SEE LIBERTARIANS ARE RAPISTS!!!111

    1. +1 No such thing as a coincidence

  16. I don’t buy this for one second. These people have absolutely no problem with huge government.

  17. NYT = Soylent Green, Whole-Foods Style

    Choosing a Compost Heap as Your Final Resting Place

    A proposal to compost human remains is attracting interest from environmental advocates and scientists

    1. Great, so when the wind blows from the south and I smell my neighbor’s compost bin, I’ll actually be smelling their dearly departed mother?

      All I can say is that weekly pickup ain’t gonna cut it any more.

  18. A lecture is coming…

      1. I seem to recall that you’ve written that before, Paul.

  19. Americans tend to disagree (46%) rather than agree (34%) with the idea that poverty is generally more a result of individual failing than social problems.

    How is it unlibertarian to say that social problems cause a great deal of poverty? It’s hard to argue that the poverty in Uganda is due to individual failings and not endemic social problems, like the prevalence of a society to be superstitious, aggressive or to widely support their government’s programs, centralization and economic controls.

    Societies operating with no principles or the wrong principles, necessarily put a cap on individual prosperity. There’s a reason that Nairobi can’t be transformed into Silicon Valley within one generation coming of age. It’s because changing the dominant beliefs of a critical mass of individuals within that society is harder than social engineers are willing to admit.

    1. We will bring them to revolution willingly or unwillingly.

    2. Yes, I’m disappointed at the lack of pushback against that in the comments and post.

      1. I don’t think it is non-libertarian to observe that culture matters, and that it takes time to change a culture. Individual actors and individual events may facilitate a transition, or delay one, but we all know that the time has to be right. Think Barry Goldwater, think Edward Snowden.

    3. I blame Bush. And other racists.

      1. As well you should.

  20. Robby Soave: I’m a Liberal Democrat. I’m Voting for Rand Paul in 2016. Here Is Why.

    I’ve been saving that for months. 😀

  21. Whether people need to be saved from themselves, as one of the example questions, is not the point. The point is whether government should be doing it, by compulsion and using funds taken from the rest of us without our agreement.

    So how do you answer the base question? Sure, people may need to be saved from themselves, but through voluntary actions by all concerned. As proxy for government intervention, this is the usual kind of begged question.

  22. They might identify as libertarian, but they’ll vote gimmedat and BE RULED.

  23. For info on what Libertarians are actually doing worldwide on these and other issues, see the Libertarian international Organization at http://www.LibertarianInternational.org

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