Nanny State: The Libertarian Vote

24 March 2007

The Libertarian Vote

by David Boaz and David Kirby

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute. He is the author of Libertarianism: A Primer and editor of The Libertarian Reader, Toward Liberty, and Left, Right & Babyboom: America's New Politics. David Kirby is executive director of America's Future Foundation and a graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

The main theme of political commentary in this decade is polarization. Since the battles over the impeachment of President Clinton and the Florida vote in 2000, pundits have been telling us that we're a country split down the middle, red vs. blue, liberal vs. conservative. Political analysts talk about base motivation and the shrinking of the swing vote. But the evidence says they are wrong.

Not all Americans can be classified as liberal or conservative. In particular, polls find that some 10 to 20 percent of voting-age Americans are libertarian, tending to agree with conservatives on economic issues and with liberals on personal freedom. The Gallup Governance Survey consistently finds about 20 percent of respondents giving libertarian answers to a two-question screen.


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