More Evidence: Libertarians Growing Rapidly in Numbers and Influence

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(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 22 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Last issue we brought news of an amazing survey by FreedomWorks that found libertarianism rising rapidly, especially among the young.

Here’s more great news along those lines.

First, a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute — a nonpartisan group that studies religion, values, and public life — finds that about 22% of Americans are either consistent libertarians (7%) or “libertarian leaners” (15%). “Libertarian leaners” are more libertarian than they are liberal, conservative or other political brands.

This 22% libertarian bloc estimate is pretty consistent with other recent surveys. And it is a large and powerful number for a growing political movement.

The survey also found that libertarians are disproportionately young: fully one in four is under 30. This is wonderful demographics for a political philosophy that wants to be the politics of the future.

Nick Gillespie of Reason.com, writing at Time.com, tells why this is exciting news for libertarians:

“[T]he 22 percent of Americans who are consistent libertarians or lean libertarian are fully capable of throwing any election in their direction. That makes them the true wild cards of American politics. A majority of libertarians describe themselves as independent (35 percent), affiliated with a third party (15 percent), or as Democrats (5 percent), with the remaining 45 percent calling themselves Republicans. …

“After a dozen-plus years of government mismanagement of the economy, foreign policy, and basic civil liberties under Republicans and Democrats, a record number of Americans rightly believe that the government has too much power. Libertarians are young, intense, principled, and highly engaged in politics. They are going to be around for a long time to come, and in ever-larger numbers. The only question left unanswered is who they will vote for.”

The survey finding is perhaps borne out by the remarkable showing this month by the Libertarian Party candidate for governor of Virginia, in a hotly contested three-way race. Libertarian Robert Sarvis, a software developer and attorney, had polled as high as ten percent, and on election day won 6.5 percent of the vote

This was the third-highest vote total for a Libertarian in a governor’s race in the party’s history, in any state. In 1990, by contrast, the Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate got just 0.7 percent of the vote.

Most importantly, the Sarvis campaign was especially popular among young voters. An exit poll shows that Sarvis won a startling 15 percent of voters age 18-29.

“A record-breaking number of Virginia voters have sent a message that they prefer the open-minded and open-for-business libertarianism of Robert Sarvis to the crazy social agenda of the Republicans and the crony capitalism of the Democrats,” said Chuck Moulton, chairman for the Libertarian Party of Virginia. “The Libertarian Party of Virginia is excited to build on this success by expanding its membership and running ever more highly qualified candidates in 2014 and beyond.”

Libertarianism is spreading fast among Americans — and especially the young. And that’s great news!

in Liberator Online Archives by James Harris Comments are off
About the author: James Harris

James Harris is the editor of the Liberator Online, the leading email newsletter of the liberty movement. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, and he has been a Finalist for the Mencken Awards, given by the Free Press Association for "Outstanding Journalism in Support of Liberty."