The Corner

The “Libertarian Vote”

David Kirby and David Boaz have been arguing that small-l libertarian voters are a swing vote in American politics. In a recent issue of NR, I pointed out that while this may be true, courting these voters presents a problem for political parties because they seem to swing in the opposite direction from the rest of the electorate. So, for example, Bush increased his share of all voters between 2000 and 2004 even while dropping among libertarians.

The pattern seems to have held in the midterms. The latest article from Kirby and Boaz indicates that libertarians split 59-36 between Republican and Democratic congressional candidates. In a recent paper for the Cato Institute, they found that libertarians had gone 53-44 percent for Republicans in House races in 2004. (They went 54-43 percent in Senate races; see p. 14 at the link.)

So congratulations Republicans! You’re doing better among libertarian voters. Too bad the rest of the electorate has turned against you.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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