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GOP Ignores Libertarian Swing Voters, and Loses

The Republican Party cannot continue to ignore libertarians. If the party won’t support limited government and won’t nominate candidates with a track record of limiting government – then swing voters won’t vote Republican. I believe that the GOP establishment still won’t get it. It’ll take more losses and a change of Republican Party leadershi…

  1. Percival
    Joseph Eagar: Oh come on, Jeff.  Wewon the mythical Independent voter.  Some swing voters did swing to Obama in the presidential election, but I doubt any libertarians voted for the man.

    2012 was not a good year for this kind of thinking.  Obama won because he got his base to turn out, and convinced our base to stay home.  Swing voters just don’t seem as important a voting bloc after that. · 2 hours ago

    Joseph, don’t waste facts on capital-L Libertarians.  Their numbers are vast; mainly, because their mailing lists are purged slightly less often than the Cook County, Illinois voter rolls.

    (Dudes, it’s been thirty years.  I don’t think I’m “coming back.” )

    They say the people get the government they deserve.  That goes double for any “libertarian swing voters”  that sat this election out.  In politics, choosing the lesser of two evils is frequently the best you can do.  I’m glad you at least, Jeff, managed to hold your nose long enough.

  2. John Hanson

    Personally, I don’t know whether I am a conservative libertarian or a libertarian conservative, most days probably the latter.  I don’t go as far as my best friend from High School, who has always been a radical libertarian, but do support small, (a lot small) government and increased federalism through recognition of the 10th ammendment.  This has been on the decline since the progressives sold the direct election of senators as an increase in democracy, when our constitution was designed as a Representative Republic, a very different thing, that we forget.   It was that change that has slowly since TR and WW led to the socialist leaning statist government we have now.  I know however, that small government conservatives, willing to really do what a small government requires, that is ending Federal transfer payment programs, over a sufficiently long period of time that people dependent upon them are not seriously hurt, are a minority with at most 10-15% support.   I, unfortunately, believe that the largest minority (majority?) in the GOP would be Large government conservatives, who just want to slow down growth, and better manage what we already have, rather than CUT!

  3. liberal jim

    We have the worst president since Carter according to some a Marxist and Romney and the RNC, with all the money they needed could not defeat him.   Now we learn the fault lies with the TP, libertarians or Santa Claus. 

    Accepting responsibility is a conservative trait and it is absent from both Romney and the RNC, makes one think they may not be conservative.  

    Now that the election is over everyone who voted for Romney needs to come to grips with the fact they threw their vote away.  You could have sent a clear message to this establishment, me-too party that a group of self serving, power hungry, professional politicians claiming to be conservatives is not an appealing alternative instead you played lemmy once again.   

  4. Mike Poliquin

    So Libertarians who might decide to vote Republican want to dump “social values positions” that are “fundamental moral issues of civilization:” the right of unborn children to life, marriage, prohibitions against recreational self-destruction, etc.

    There is plenty about which “social” conservatives and Libertarians agree: free markets, lower taxes, less regulation, and smaller government, …but hard-core Libertarians won’t admit that at least the Republicans are closer to their tastes than Democrats and vote it.

    Libertarians who sit out elections or vote Libertarian in national elections are voting Democrat. We all get what they deserve because they choose to quit the team on election day. We “social” conservatives are not completely happy as Republicans either, but we bite the bullet and vote for our team. If the liberal Republican establishment can blame losses on Libertarians, they won’t blame themselves.

    You don’t see African-Americans and gays having this problem getting along on the left, do you? Ergo, they win with their unity on game day.

    If you get your way, Jeff, at least some who say they love liberty — either Libertarians or “social” conservatives — will have nothing for which to vote. That’s no way to win.

  5. Donald Todd

    Jeff:  we’ve identified no fewer than nine contests in 2012 where the Libertarian received more votes than the difference between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

    Where is the guarantee that these voters would have voted Republican?  Perhaps the Democrat vote total would have increased?

    Given that Republicanism at large is probably not pro-marijuana and that a sizable faction of the “L”ibertarians are pro-marijuana, I can imagine a scenario that favors any Dem who will support marijuana legalization.  

    Any assumption that the disparity involving Libertarian votes going Republican is specious. 

  6. Richard

    I’m sure there were some social Conservatives who stayed home as well.  

    Plus, as Dirty Harry would say, a man has got to know his limitations. Social Conservatives need to realize picking the candidate that can win is something to consider, and campaigns are not the best platform to talk about the immorality of condoms (Santorum), the virtues of prohibition (Angle, in NEVADA!, if she were running in Utah she would have been fine, but Nevada? Way to know your electorate!), or to express your theories on how the female reproductive system responds to rape (Akin).

    And too many senate seats have been lost in the last 2 elections thanks to people putting their foot in their mouth on social issues, we would probably have the majority right now if it were’t for a handful of “wackos, weirdos, and witches” as Barone called them. It is something we need to improve on for 2014. At the very least everyone should get the rape question before the primary so they have a chance to implode then. 

    Mike Poliquin: So Libertarianswho might decide to vote Republican want to dump “social values positions” that are “fundamental moral issues of civilization….

  7. Nick Stuart

    That’s a photo of Libertarians right? If they can’t take a nomination away from the Republican in a primary, they’re not going to be able to beat either the Republican or Democrat in the general. All they are doing is acting as spoilers.

    Feel good about throwing two congressional and one senate seat to the Dems? Hope so.

  8. Mafuta Kizola
    Richard: How many times has Ryan spoken at the Cato Institute? 

    I know he has been there a few times because I heard him speak there. The guy was Romney’s pick for Vice President, Libertarians, and Libertarian leaning Conservatives should have been thrilled to vote for that ticket. They haven’t had anything like it in a very long time. · 8 hours ago

    They tend to be perfectionists, which might be their downfall.

    I would like to play skeptical devil advocate and ask for examples of Libertarians candidates actually winning Blue or swing elections either for LP or for the GOP.

    I think that Libertarians might be overestimating the candy points they get on social policy, because while they might not get attacked as anti-women for them generally being pro-choice. their economic policy is on the right of the GOP most of the time and it would lead the Democrats to turn class warfare up to eleven.

    I know that Rand and Ron Paul were elected in relatively safe seats, but is there someone elected in a blue seat with Libertarian platform ?

    While Libertarians might be spoilers, nothing say that they might be the save buoy either.

  9. Leslie Watkins

    Romney lost because a majority of Americans live in Wonderland. Especially famously rich women. Never have I seen/read about so many celebrities going ballistic over the so-called war on women. (What this says about my beloved postwar feminism is beyond depressing.) It did not help that Ryan said a Romney administration would be pro-life, leaving it to the imagination as to what that meant. It’s idiocy that modern American women took that information and freaked out, but, hey, that’s what happens when you drink the kool-aid in Wonderland. And this is the rub. Libertarians writ large are never going to fully back vocally pro-life candidates, whom they view as that Akin fellow who lost. And religious Republicans are never going to enthusiastically back a pro-choice candidate, even if that means the candidate is pro-life is his heart. As seems always to be the case with political arguments, getting with the program means getting with my program.

  10. Pseudodionysius
    Paul Dougherty

    J. D. Fitzpatrick: I was disappointed to see Rubio and Jindal bowing to Leviathan the other day as well; I felt half tempted to pull the plug on the party. But the analysis you quoted still seems incomplete to me.  · 7 minutes ago

    Food for thought. Rubio and Jindal intend to run again for office. Romney does not.  My guess is that we may be in for a lot of incitefull and possibly  even inspiring words from Mitt Romney, now that he is not looking for votes. · 6 hours ago

    Fascinating point.

  11. Pseudodionysius

    It did not help that Ryan said a Romney administration would be pro-life, leaving it to the imagination as to what that meant.

    My sense is that Ryan was muzzled from trying to define what that meant.

  12. Mr. Bildo

    Oh, those wonky closed-minded dogmatic libertarians and their utopias. If only they’d file rank with open-minded and non-dogmatic social conservatives we could get a Santorum/Akin ticket in ’16 and win in a landslide.

    If there is anything Ricochet has taught me post election is that socons are even more determined to alienate libertarians. They’ll concede free markets and individual liberty, but be damned if they see a homosexual walking around with a wedding ring on his finger.

    The socialists and progressives are aligned, the small government federalists are fractured. The loose alliance of libertarians and conservatives is waning. There is no coming coalition. We are doomed.

  13. Joseph Paquette
    BrentB67: The republicans had the opportunity to stand for something, but nominated a candidate that couldn’t muster a platform or campaign more engaging than saying ‘I am not Obama’. Republicans got the candidate they wanted and now have the government they deserve. I voted Romney and sent money like everyone else I know in the Tea Party. The responsibility for winning a campaign lies solely with the candidate. He gets the spoils of the office and the responsibility of defeat. Want to win an election? Stand For something and try starting with a Constitutionally limited federal government and free market economy – the results may be astounding. · 9 hours ago

    I thought Romney did just that in the first debate.  Then he sat on his percieved lead.  If he had just gone out, and kept driving the ball instead of playing run out the clock, he’d have won. 

  14. Richard
    Samuel Amaral

    They tend to be perfectionists, which might be their downfall.

    I would like to play skeptical devil advocate and ask for examples of Libertarians candidates actually winning Blue or swing elections either for LP or for the GOP.

    I think that Libertarians might be overestimating the candy points they get on social policy, because while they might not get attacked as anti-women for them generally being pro-choice. their economic policy is on the right of the GOP most of the time and it would lead the Democrats to turn class warfare up to eleven.

    I know that Rand and Ron Paul were elected in relatively…

    One of the bigger dividing lines on the right actually might be between those of us who are practical who are going to do what we think needs to be done to build a winning coalition in a world with hundreds of competing interests and ideological variations, and those who are perfectionists, both on the libertarian end and the social conservative end, both drawing their own lines in the sand in certain places, each more interested in the purity of their candidates on their favorite issues then actually having them govern. 

  15. skipsul

    So, how’s that Libertarian project in New Hampshire working out?  Lost the governorship?  Lost the legislature?  Split the vote?

  16. Sean

    Exactly.

    Take a look at the Reason magazine survey of who their contributors are voting for. Also see the link on that page for the ’08 & ’04 versions.

    They basically ask, who are you voting for in this election, and who did you vote for in previous elections. Most answers, not surprisingly, are the Libertarian Party candidate. The thing that stands out to me is that there are a heck of a lot of Gore, Kerry & Obama votes in previous years, and not so many Bush & McCain votes.

    It is a myth to suggest that each LP vote is one less GOP vote.

    Donald Todd:Jeff:  we’ve identified no fewer than nine contests in 2012 where the Libertarian received more votes than the difference between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

    Where is the guarantee that these voters would have voted Republican?  Perhaps the Democrat vote total would have increased?

    Given that Republicanism at large is probably not pro-marijuana and that a sizable faction of the “L”ibertarians are pro-marijuana, I can imagine a scenario that favors any… 

    Any assumption that the disparity involving Libertarian votes going Republican is specious.  · 1 hour ago

  17. Esau

    The feeling is mutual.

  18. Sean

    I think the more significant point is that the Ron Paul supporters may be out there somewhere in or beyond the fringe of the GOP, but the party still ought to be able to get them to vote for their candidate.

    From what I can tell, based on friends and acquaintances that I know to be Paulites, they generally voted for Johnson & not Romney.

  19. skipsul

    Look the Republican party is at best a loose coalition of conflicting interests, as is the Democrat party.  We don’t have a parliamentary system, we have a winner-take-all system.  In a parliament, the coalition building is done after the elections, in ours it is done before. 

    If you want to win elections here, you have to build your coalition first, then run with it.  This means you will always have people in the party who have interests at odds with some of yours, and if your party is to be successful you have to compromise somewhere, and if you want your party to change you have to work within it.  

    However the Libertarians are demanding to run the whole party now, and drive out anyone who disagrees with them – this isn’t coalition building.

    It is also dishonest.  Lib’s here are claiming that social conservatives are monomaniacal and ruining the party, while being monomaniacal themselves on the same issues.  “Compromise for thee, not for me”.

  20. BrentB67

    I agree. I think there is a lot of opportunity to appeal to libertarians by reducing government, emphasizing the 10th Amendment. All things that should be core planks of the republican party, but then get immediately forgotten when the lights come on.

    I think there are a lot of libertarian minded folks in the Tea Party ranks that would support republicans enthusiastically if they actually had a spine to cut government and not just squabble about reducing how fast it grows.

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