Can Romney win over libertarians?

The Blaze reports that Mitt Romney is having a difficult time getting supporters of former presidential candidate Ron Paul and libertarians in general on his side.

Those who identify with libertarian ideas represent a sizable part of the voter base in America. In a 2006 Zogby International poll, 59 percent of respondents said “yes” to whether they would describe themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” The poll was commissioned by David Boaz and David Kirby of the Cato Institute – a think tank dedicated to advancing principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace — who have conducted several studies together on the libertarian-leaning voter beginning with a 2006 paper where they determined through admittedly strict calculations that 13 to 15 percent of the electorate could be defined as libertarian. In a 2010 paper, Boaz and Kirby noted that Gallup polling on the issue consistently finds about 20 percent of respondents to be libertarian.


Former spokesman for the Democratic National Committee from 1983 to 1987, Terry Michael has written commentary extensively for publications like Reason, TheStreet, and The Washington Times from the viewpoint of a self-described “libertarian Democrat,” and tells TheBlaze that Romney and the GOP have not presented an argument respecting both fiscal responsibility and civil liberties to convince him that they will win the libertaran-leaning vote 2012.

“People want more economic choice along with social choice,” Michael tells TheBlaze while discussing the 2012 presidential race and libertarian vote. “That’s where the center of the electorate is going, whoever seizes that will win.”

In 2008, Michael argued “The Libertarian Case for Obama,”and endorsed the Illinois Democratic Senator. Michael has since abandoned Obama for his continued support of the War in Afghanistan and War on Drugs, in addition to having “rammed through a taxpayer and deficit-funded corporate welfare program for drug and insurance companies, in the guise of health care reform.” Michael is supporting Gary Johnson in 2012, but tells TheBlaze he still believes that many in the Democratic base have views likely closer to libertarianism than those of elected Democrats in Washington and their support of the AFL-CIO and “military-industrial-congressional-media complex.”

Additionally challenging for Republicans trying to retain the support of libertarian-leaning voters in the 2012 presidential election is the growing demographic of younger libertarians, alienated by much of the GOP policy over the last twelve years.

Reason’s Matt Welch commented to TheBlaze that he has observed an incredible growth and influence of libertarianism coming from college campuses in recent years, and sees it unlikely that young libertarians that are especially passionate about ending the drug war and supporting gay rights, would support Mitt Romney or the GOP.


26 thoughts on “Can Romney win over libertarians?

  1. NewFederalist

    No… that was a “Reagan Libertarian”. Apparently one need not be a libertarian to be a Libertarian. But as to Romney… no chance in hell!

  2. Oranje Mike

    I think there’s a legitimate fear among some that if Obama gets an opportunity to stack the Supreme Court the Second Amendment would be dead or neutered. On Supreme Court appointing duties alone I think Romney could pick up a few here and there. These folks would likely come from Root types.

    I don’t think a true blue libertarian will even think about Romney. I sure as hell won’t.

  3. Jared King

    No. Absolutley not. By no means. Negative. Never. Nix. No way. Not at all. Not by any means. That’s it for my thesaurus.

  4. Joe Buchman

    By definition anyone “won over” was not a Libertarian to begin with. I’d place odds on it. 🙂

  5. From Der Sidelines

    Can Romney win over libertarians?

    Can Obama win over conservatives?

    Hell no on both counts.

  6. From Der Sidelines

    Or if you prefer, Romney wins over libertarians right after the Cubs win the World Series.

  7. Tom Blanton

    Sure Mitt can win over libertarians! All kinds of libertarians in the big three-ring circus tent of post 9/11 libertarianism.

    Why just in the LP alone, there are many potential Romney voters. The biggest group is the Reagan-Libertarians, of course. And there’s the Root-Libertarians that aren’t really sure who Reagan was. Then there are the Glenn Beck-Libertarians, the Boortz-Libertarians, the Netanyahu-Libertarians, the Ghouliani-Libertarians, The McCain-Libertarians and the Bush-Libertarians.

    Then there are the disgruntled Republican libertarians that will support the LP candidate right up to the moment they enter the voting booth, but then cast their vote for the Republican candidate rather than take the chance a Democrat will be elected.

    My guesstimate is that of those socially liberal, economically conservative types that wonks from CATO identify as libertarians, 10% will write in Ron Paul, 10% will vote for Obama, 10% will vote for Johnson, 35% will vote for Romney, and the rest won’t vote at all.

    After all, as the big-tenters constantly remind us, nobody is allowed to define what a libertarian is when such definition would exclude anyone that is able to breath. Or has shiny white teeth and the personality of a used car salesman on meth.

  8. Kevin Knedler

    win me over– NEVER.
    What can the GOP expect after the way they treated Ron Paul delegates at both the 2008 and 2012 national GOP convention. What can the GOP expect after the repeated attacks on ballot access of the Libertarian Party and the 1st amendment in numerous states. Long term, the LP will grow and the GOP will decline. Bring on Generation Y.

  9. DSZ

    @6 – Romney has a much worse record on gun control than Obama. In Massachusetts he was proud of his extensive anti-gun policies, whereas the worst Obama has ever talked about is renewing the Assault Weapons Ban, and he’s even given that up the last couple years and dropped pretty much all anti-gun rhetoric.

  10. George Phillies

    @13 In a new record for not winning support, again by the lead candidate of America’s next third party, Mitt Romney’s campaign co-chair just quit to become a bank lobbyist.

  11. Steve M

    as if libertarians were a monolithic block…….

    some will… some won’t… in attempting to do so mitt will lose other voters. if he doesn’t attempt to do so he will still get some.

    will the net gain justify the loses and costs?

    I suspect there is more to this game then the next presidential election. There is control of the Republican Party at stake.

    Mitt is the head of a team he isn’t the team. The members of the team are going to be positioning themselves for the future.

    Sure if they win, part of the administration, but if they lose, positioning them selves for the next chance.

  12. Thane Eichenauer

    So long as the Romney and Obama both support the Afghanistan occupation private contract supply and logistics lobby does it matter if a billionaire here and there vote for either Duopoly nominee?

  13. fred

    Sure Romney can win me over.

    He can change all of his stances to Libertarian stances and then spend several years fighting for them and working for liberty. If he managed to get elected as Governor again and then implemented Libertarian policies–then he might have won me over.

  14. Mark Seidenberg

    Libertarian Party of California is moving in an
    upward direction in the elector count. The new
    total of electors for September 7, 2012 is now out with 94,620 from 93,657. The current requirement to be a qualified political party in
    California is 103,004 electors,

    I see this election as the only reasonable way
    for the LP to keep its ballot status in California,
    because libertarian Republicans could reregister
    as LP for ballot status in 2014.

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