What is a libertarian to do?
Ryan Sager asks just this question today on Real Clear Politics. He also has some good data from a Pew and Gallup polls on exactly what % of people fall into particular political categories. Key points:
- Depending on how you measure it, 9-20% of Americans can be classified as libertarians.
- "The 20 percent figure comes from Gallup, which labels as libertarian voters who say they oppose the use of government either to "promote traditional values" or to "do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses." Gallup finds an equal number of populists (people who want more government intervention in both the economy and the culture). And it finds that 27 percent of Americans are conservative and 24 percent are liberal."
- "Libertarians were the smallest group, as defined by Pew, followed by conservatives (15 percent), populists (16 percent) and liberals (18 percent). A full 42 percent of voters held no identifiable ideology (these are presumably the people who vote for whomever's tallest)."
- "The Pew survey finds 50 percent of libertarians identifying as Republicans, 41 percent as Democrats."
- "According to Pew's "political typology," libertarians used to be one of three groups that made up the Republican Party, along with social conservatives and economic conservatives. But, since 1994, they've been replaced by a group of voters Pew has called Populists, but most recently renamed Pro-Government Conservatives. In essence, it would seem, these Pro-Government Conservatives -- about 10 percent of the electorate, largely female and southern, and equally at ease with universal health care and banning controversial books from libraries -- are squeezing libertarians further and further toward the fringes of the GOP."
Sager points out if libertarians want to have any hopes of having either party take them seriously, they will need to become more involved. But he also points out it is difficult to organize a bunch of individualists, and hard to get involved in government a bunch of people who don't really like, you know, government.