Libertarian Party Presidential performance in percentage terms, a year to year comparison


2008 (Barr) 0.4% (45 states)
2004 (Badnarik) 0.3% (48 states plus DC)
2000 (Browne) 0.4% (49 states plus DC, plus Smith in Arizona)
1996 (Browne) 0.5% (50 states plus DC)
1992 (Marrou) 0.3% (50 states plus DC)
1988 (Paul) 0.5% (46 states plus DC)
1984 (Bergland) 0.3% (39 states)
1980 (Clark) 1.1% (50 states plus DC)
1976 (MacBride) 0.2% (32 states)
1972 (Hospers) statistically insignificant (2 states)

21 thoughts on “Libertarian Party Presidential performance in percentage terms, a year to year comparison

  1. Austin Cassidy

    Pretty discouraging to look at it like that.

    Haven’t moved more than two tenths of one percent since 1984. Sheesh.

  2. Brian Miller

    The goal isn’t a vote-counting contest, it’s getting the ideas out there in the political debate and advancing them.

    The LP will never win a presidential election — and that’s the whole point. Focusing on vote totals by themselves ignores the whole point of the LP.

    If the LP dilutes its message into GOP-Dem-lite to gain votes, it becomes a superfluous cause. If it sticks to its guns and gets its ideas into the mainstream, it’s successful.

    I’d much rather have an LP at 0.4% whose ideas are working their way into Democrat and GOP policy positions than an LP at 5% that runs on a Bob Barr platform. The latter position is a road to nowhere.

  3. johncjackson

    Has the 0.4% LP ever gotten its ideas into any policy positions?

    It doesn’t seem to me that libertarian ideas have made their way into any policy. If anything the opposite.

    I agree the LP will never win anything, but I don’t see any other positives either.

  4. Brian Miller

    Has the 0.4% LP ever gotten its ideas into any policy positions?

    Privatization, marijuana decriminalization, opposition to the war in Iraq, free trade, opposition to the military draft, property rights, self-defense rights, freedom of expression, health care choice, balanced budgets, etc. are all central positions in the policy debates of the present era. All of them are Libertarian Party positions, and when major party candidates stray from libertarian positions on them, they lose votes to the LP.

  5. johncjackson

    I could cynically say that all of those positions are championed at least somewhat prominently by one of the major parties or prominent individuals/non-partisan groups not associated with the LP.

  6. rdupuy

    The Bob Barr platform you so deride, Mr. Miller, is a pure libertarian platform.

    Sounds to me like someone is letting the LP’s political foes, define his thinking.

    Yes, Barr was swiftboated, and he should have responded. But thats a lesson learned. As far as his platform, its very much the same Ayn Rand influenced platform of Ron Paul, Andre Marrou, Harry Browne, and Badnarik.

    People who say Barr isn’t ‘pure’ never qualify their remarks, because quite frankly, its a silly argument.

    Barr fully supports the libertarian platform and has been an eloquent speaker on its behalf at every stop.

  7. rdupuy

    I look at the 1.1% of Ed Clark, and there are several reasons he got that percentage.

    One is they had money to buy spots and get wide attention. 2 the party was new, and people were willing to consider it.

    The great news is, we can get access to the money that Ed Clark had, and return to that 1 percent threshhold, and I believe go up from there.

    Ron Paul, for all his self destructive ways, proved their is a mechanism to do raise money, to raise, in fact, even more money then the Clark campaign ever spent.

    Barr didn’t do it. He didn’t do it, in my opinion, because his campaign was too late in starting, and his experience running 3rd party, too limited at the start. Plus he had to contend with Ron Paul.

    All of which won’t be factors in 2012.

    I don’t know why I’m so upbeat, but for the first time in a long time, I think the party is set to grow.

    We can eject the self destructive, quite frankly ‘weirdo’s’ from the party. We can build a world class organization. Barr can run a better campaign. I didn’t even know him a year ago. Now I would start early and work hard, if I knew he was running again.

    Onwards and upwards.

  8. Brian Miller

    We can eject the self destructive, quite frankly ‘weirdo’s’ from the party.

    What about those of us who view Barr and his inner circle as self-destructive weirdos?

  9. gls

    LOL at the Barr acolyte trying to spin this as some sort of victory. Robert Milnes could have gotten more votes.

  10. Thomas M. Sipos

    I gave a write-in vote for Ron Paul.

    But I’d sooner vote for Bob Barr than Wayne Allyn Root.

    I could have voted for a Barr/Kubby ticket. Adding Root to the ticket was the deal-breaker for me.

  11. George Phillies

    *Yes, Barr was swiftboated, and he should have responded.*

    He was? Someone made an attack ad against him with factual elements about his past that were substantially untrue? Is the ad on the internet so we can all see it? I mean, when someone makes an attack ad against you that has a significant effect…meaning it has to be seen nationally…someone has accorded you a certain level of respect.

  12. paulie cannoli Post author

    Another way to look at the numbers

    Nader 0.52% Independent
    Barr 0.40% Libertarian
    Baldwin 0.14% Constitution
    McKinney 0.11% Green

    Nader 0.38% Independent
    Badnarik 0.32% Libertarian
    Peroutka 0.12% Constitution
    Cobb 0.10% Green


    Nader 2.73% Green
    Buchanan 0.43% Reform
    Browne 0.36% Libertarian
    Phillips 0.11% Constitution

    Perot 8.40% Reform
    Nader 0.71% Green
    Browne 0.50% Libertarian
    Phillips 0.19% Constitution

    Perot 18.91% Independent
    Marrou 0.28% Libertarian
    Gritz 0.10% Populist
    Fulani 0.07% New Alliance
    [Phillips 0.04%] 7th place, including him since the CP is still active

  13. George Dance

    I don’t think the original post gives a fair comparison. For one thing, the total turnout goes up and down every year; a Libertarian is more likely to get a higher percentage in a year with lower turnout, and vice versa.
    That bias is built right into your results for the post-Clark candidates. The two 0.3% candidates ran in high-turnout years, and the two 0.5% candidates in low-turnout years.
    Factor that in, and I don’t think there’d be much of a difference.

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