19% of Americans Self-Identify as Libertarians, New Reuters Poll Finds

One-third of Millennials, but only one-eighth of oldsters, embrace the term


Reuters has a fascinating new poll out about Americans' conflicting attitudes toward government. Of particular interest, in the words of the news agency's write-up:

One in five Americans consider themselves libertarian, with younger adults being the most likely to adopt the label. Among adults aged 18 to 29, 32 percent consider themselves libertarian. Just 12 percent of Americans age 60 or older consider themselves libertarian.

Note that this isn't some classification deduced from a collection of polled attitudes; this is how 4,770 American adults between April 10 and April 24 responded to the question, "Do you consider yourself a libertarian?"

That answer also breaks down interestingly along political lines: 22 percent of Democrats said they were libertarians, more than the 18 percent of Republicans, and just a hair less than the 25 percent of independents.

The full poll has a range of interesting questions about government, some of which we'll be talking about in more detail in this space, and many of which piggyback onto the insights gleaned in the Reason-Rupe poll on Millennials, which we titled "The Unclaimed Generation." As I tried to explain to Reuters,

young people are more likely to consider themselves "free agents," and because of that are more likely to gravitate toward libertarianism. "They don't belong to churches, they don't belong to things," [Welch] said.

Millennials have also, needless to say, grown up in a fetid swamp of terrible politics, policies, wars, recessions, job markets, encroachments on their privacy, and more. Libertarianism is bound to look better and better when considering the lived-in alternatives.

More about the new poll here.