Where the Libertarians Are (Hint: the East, as Always, Sucks)

Montana and New Hampshire lead the pack, with West Virginia and Mississippi bringing up the rear


Photo by Black Bloke/PorcFest

Jason Sorens of Free State Project fame has once again crunched the numbers to figure out where libertarians are clustered around the United States. It's an effort he previously made in 2010 and he repeats the exercise using updated figures from the 2012 election. With minor adjustments, he once again finds that libertarians are largely concentrated in the West, with New Hampshire an isolated outpost of freedom lovers in a sea of eastern suckage. 

Sorens writes:

To see which states have the most libertarians, I use six measures: Libertarian Party presidential vote share in 2008 and 2012, Ron Paul contributions as a share of personal income in 2007-8, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson contributions as a share of income in 2011-12, and "adjusted" Ron Paul primary vote share in 2008 and 2012. Ron Paul vote shares are adjusted for primary vs. caucus, calendar, number of other candidates, and the like (for details see this post). Hawaii and Wyoming are excluded because they did not collect vote shares in the 2008 presidential primary. D.C. is included.

I'm not at all surprised to see states east of the Mississippi, whether blue or red, score so poorly. Frankly, it corresponds closely with the fever swamp of smug authoritarianism I note in conversations with and Facebook feeds from eastern friends and relations. Popular culture fears of the zombie apocalypse clearly reflect our implicit knowledge of what's going to happen when easterners one day shake their heads, look around, and simultaneously try to flee one another in a mad rush across the Mississippi River.

It's going to be ugly.

The states are ranked from most to least libertarian below (although omitted, Wyoming seemed to trend above average, Sorens notes in the comments). Montana and New Mexico are both overstated in the rankings, Sorens says, because Ron Paul was on the 2008 Montana general election ballot as the presidential candidate of the Constitution Party, while former governor Gary Johnson drew outsized support from his home state when he ran.

Note that these rankings are based on concentrations of libertarian supporters, not local laws and policies. And don't get hung up on the numbers, unless you're a statistician.

Montana 5.504036
New Hampshire 4.163368
Alaska 3.586032
New Mexico 3.319092
Idaho 2.842685
Nevada 2.477748
Texas 1.632528
Washington 1.568113
Oregon 1.180586
Arizona 1.0411
North Dakota 0.7316829
Indiana 0.6056806
California 0.5187439
Vermont 0.4731389
Utah 0.2056809
Colorado 0.1532149
Kansas 0.107657
South Dakota 0.0328709
Maine -0.0850015
Pennsylvania -0.2063729
Iowa -0.3226413
Georgia -0.3296589
Virginia -0.3893113
Maryland -0.4288172
Rhode Island -0.470931
Tennessee -0.4882021
Missouri -0.4912609
Arkansas -0.5384682
Louisiana -0.5897537
Nebraska -0.6350928
Minnesota -0.7662109
Michigan -0.7671053
North Carolina -0.811959
South Carolina -0.8196676
Illinois -0.9103957
Ohio -0.9599612
Delaware -1.057948
Florida -1.072601
District of Columbia -1.091851
New York -1.225912
Kentucky -1.330388
Massachusetts -1.342607
Wisconsin -1.410286
New Jersey -1.431843
Connecticut -1.606663
Alabama -1.863769
Oklahoma -1.93511
West Virginia -2.244921
Mississippi -2.519249

Read the whole thing here.