Libertarians Will Be Largest Swing Vote, Study Says

WASHINGTON – A dramatic shift in the voting patterns of the up to 21 percent of the voting-age public identified as libertarian will likely tilt the balance of the 2006 midterm election, according to a new report.

Libertarians have traditionally voted for Republican candidates, and have voted overwhelmingly for almost every Republican presidential candidate since at least 1972, according to the report.

But the study’s authors, Cato Institute Executive Vice President David Boaz and America’s Future Foundation Executive Director David Kirby, conclude that this group of voters has suddenly – and silently – become the nation’s largest swing vote. Libertarians, the study concludes, have become disillusioned with Republican overspending, social intolerance, civil liberties infringements, and the floundering war in Iraq – and will likely abandon the GOP for the first time in generations.

“Libertarians are, simply put, the most important swing vote out there this year,” says Mr. Boaz. “Although the media will inevitably frame the debate in terms of liberal vs. conservative, Moore vs. Coulter, this election will not be settled on blue vs. red. It will be settled on purple.”

In 2002, just 15 percent of libertarian voters supported a Democratic candidate for Senate. By 2004, fully 43 percent of all libertarian voters did – a 287 percent increase in just two years.

On the House side, only 23 percent of libertarian voters supported a Democratic candidate in 2002 – but that number almost doubled to 44 percent by 2004.

The same trends are evident in presidential politics. Although Al Gore mustered just one in five libertarian votes in 2000, John Kerry got almost two in five libertarian votes in 2004.

According to a Gallup poll released last month, there are exactly as many libertarians, 21 percent, as there are pure liberals. That number is just slightly lower than the number of pure conservatives found in the poll of 25 percent.

Source: The Cato Institute

The Cato Institute is a nonpartisan public policy research foundation dedicated to broadening policy debate consistent with the traditional American principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace.

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