Reason poll: Young libertarians favored Obama over Romney by 10 points

posted at 10:04 pm on December 11, 2012 by Allahpundit

Some conservatives I know think libertarianism is less a serious ideological commitment than an affectation of certain social liberals who relish the idea of political independence. Why be something as banal as a Democrat when you can embrace Democratic social policies while leveraging the romantic intellectual outsider libertarian brand instead?

This won’t change their minds, I’m thinking:

Obvious caveat here: The voters described as “libertarian” didn’t self-identify that way. They’re presumptive libertarians based on the fact that they prefer small government and legal weed — not a bad rough gauge of political sympathies, but surely not foolproof. Case in point, if you’re all about legalizing pot, why on earth would you vote for a notorious marijuana hawk like Obama? On the other hand, marijuana legalization does seem to correlate with certain other socially liberal policies, so this may be based on more than just weed. Anyway, good enough for Reason, good enough for me.

The excuse for the result here, I take it, will be the old chestnut that there’s no meaningful difference between the parties and therefore, if you’re forced to choose, you might as well vote for the unabashed statist over the sheepish one. But they didn’t have to choose. Gary Johnson, a prominent, authentic libertarian, was on the ballot in most states and available as a protest vote. Failing that, they could have written in Ron or Rand Paul. If they voted for O, it’s likely because they prioritized social issues over fiscal ones, which is insane given the magnitude of the debt crisis we face but possibly a political fact of life when it comes to young voters of all stripes. And no, it’s no answer to say that Romney and Ryan wouldn’t have been the budget-slashing heroes that Pauls pere and fils are. Read this smart Ted Frank piece from October to see why. As devastating as Roberts’s ObamaCare decision was, the fact remains that five Republican Supreme Court justices agreed that the mandate exceeded the limits of the Commerce Clause. You’ll never, ever get a ruling like that from a Democratic appointee, and if you’re a libertarian, that should matter — maybe not so much to get you to cast a vote for Mitt but certainly enough to not get you to cast a vote for O. Same with foreign policy. Romney’s a lot more hawkish than the average libertarian can stomach, but then Romney’s not the guy who ordered military action in Libya and drone strikes across the world without so much as a nod at congressional approval. Again, all of this counsels either staying home or voting Johnson, not voting O.

For all the heavy breathing about the parties being indistinguishable, you’d be more likely to have serious entitlement reform passed and signed into law by Romney and a Republican Congress than you would with O wielding a veto pen and Harry Reid gumming things up in the Senate. If young libertarians didn’t care about that, it has to be because they voted for social issues rather than fiscal ones, which I suspect means gay marriage and maybe abortion more so than legalizing weed. Oh well. Enjoy the tax hikes.


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It’s much more convenient for young libertarians to be a Democrat-all that free drugs,gay marriage and baby killing you know-libertarianism my ass,try libertinism!

redware on December 12, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Paying attention to polls that are obviously flawed doesn’t help anyone.

But look on the bright side – if this poll is right we can all just give up and wait for the SMOD!

ramesees on December 12, 2012 at 6:47 AM

BREAKING: 48% of young libertarians have no idea what libertarianism is.

Please Mayans, be right. I can’t take much more.

Pope Linus on December 12, 2012 at 7:02 AM

I tend to agree with Dennis Miller that this was a “tectonic” election because, evidently, many center-right voters stayed at home rather than oppose Obama’s demonstrated liberal/progressive agenda, an agenda of federal government domination of states and individual rights.
I was shocked on election night when it became clear that the dire warnings of conservatives and libertarians were being ignored by a critical mass of traditionally Republican voters. Romney lost because of our side? How could that be given the looming fiscal calamity, the Obamacare debacle, Fast and Furous, The Arab Spring, Benghazi…?
Then I remembered how I felt 18 months ago about 2012 and a possible Romney candidacy. I felt then that his Mormonism would deny him the Republican nomination. I was wrong about that and as the campaign season proceeded I came to believe that Romney was the best man to rid America of the Chicago menace. I still believe that, but I also believe that the cultural prejudice that could not deny him the nomination, got their revenge on election night.
The Dems knew this weakness of course, and played to it under cover and code: Romney’s rich(Mormon), Romney is uncaring, murderous(Mormon), Romney’s hiding his real(Mormon) agenda, Romney isn’t like you(Psst- He’s a Mormon!)
Romney lost this election because of prejudice from the Right which overrode the danger of giving Obama 4 more years. Unhappily I believe this is the reason for an outcome which is otherwise baffling given the incompetence of the last 4 years, and venality of the Democratic campaign.
The good news is that this is still a center-right country, but the bad news….
Ladies and gentlemen I give you the Mormon elephant in the room.

Randy

williars on December 12, 2012 at 7:04 AM

What’s a weed loving, anti-baby killing FiCon to do? Can’t vote for Obama, Gary Johnson’s a tool, and Pubs are just retarded enough to back Mitt freakin’ Romney

Slade73 on December 12, 2012 at 7:32 AM

mittens sucked…that’s why obama won

Pragmatic on December 12, 2012 at 7:48 AM

Why call them Libertarians? Just call them pot heads, dopers, slackers, whatever is current. They want to be able to smoke and not have the govt funded at a level to be able to do anything about it.

katiejane on December 12, 2012 at 7:56 AM

All this tells me is that young people are now too stupid and poorly educated to describe properly their own political beliefs.

morganfrost on December 12, 2012 at 7:57 AM

Obvious caveat here: The voters described as “libertarian” didn’t self-identify that way. They’re presumptive libertarians based on the fact that they prefer small government and legal weed — not a bad rough gauge of political sympathies, but surely not foolproof.

Bong Cabin Republicans.

logis on December 12, 2012 at 8:09 AM

Talk to enough younger libertarians (and I have) and you’ll find that what most animates them, the thing they’re most passionate about, is an intense dislike for Christians. By extension, this also means the GOP.

You occasionally will get one who can speak coherently about Milton Friedman, or can synthesize Ron Paul on the Fed, but they don’t get really worked up until you mention gay marriage. Then the fangs pop out.

I don’t take Libertarians seriously at all.

SAMinVA on December 12, 2012 at 8:31 AM

Most Ron Paul supporters went for Obama in 08 and did the same in 12 that’s what those people are… morons.

bannor on December 12, 2012 at 8:39 AM

This poll is pure bull Shiite.

If you believe everything that is printed is truthful, I have a Benghazi story for you.

Romney WON YOUNG WHITE MILLENNIALS who voted 51-44% (18-29 yrs)
The media doesn’t want you to know this, but unless these “young Libertarians” are predominantly minority and love big government control- this poll is more Pravda propaganda that belongs on CNN.

FlaMurph on December 12, 2012 at 9:12 AM

but it’s the gay issue that makes us despised by the youth.

thuja on December 11, 2012 at 11:31 PM

World’s tiniest violin.

I see what you tried to do there…

Lourdes on December 12, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Why call them Libertarians? Just call them pot heads, dopers, slackers, whatever is current. They want to be able to smoke and not have the govt funded at a level to be able to do anything about it.

katiejane on December 12, 2012 at 7:56 AM

that’s too dumb to merit a response

*damn it!*

Slade73 on December 12, 2012 at 9:39 AM

These people are not libertarians. they are liberals trying to pretend to be fiscally conservative. It is all a big lie. Aside from a very, very, very few high-minded think-tank types who proclaim themselves libertarian, most people who claim to be “libertarian” believe in big gov’t, except they want abortion, pot, and gay marriage.

I have no respect for anyone proclaiming themselves Libertarian. I don’t know why we bother talking about them – they are as dishonest usually as the liberals.

Monkeytoe on December 12, 2012 at 9:46 AM

I have no respect for anyone proclaiming themselves Libertarian. I don’t know why we bother talking about them – they are as dishonest usually as the liberals.

Monkeytoe on December 12, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Geezus. Can we all generalize any further people?

logic, it’s what’s for dinner

Slade73 on December 12, 2012 at 9:49 AM

but it’s the gay issue that makes us despised by the youth.

thuja on December 11, 2012 at 11:31 PM

World’s tiniest violin.

I see what you tried to do there…

Lourdes on December 12, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Make a valid point?

That wasn’t the only issue, but the new voters would rather have corrupt idiots who don’t judge them, than judgmental idiots who do the right thing.

Wrap your head around that. It’s tough, but its real.

Irritable Pundit on December 12, 2012 at 9:53 AM

The type sketched here is not libertarian, they are ignorantarian. The apes have no idea what a libertarian is, but it sounds nice. It’s a long way from Murray Rothbard, John Hospers, Frank Chodorov, & Frank S Meyer, like most else today, a real slide downhill. Ignorance is King.

arand on December 12, 2012 at 9:57 AM

Science now says that human brains are not fully developed until about age 25. Some key abilities that develop late are:
• Decision making
• Use of appropriate judgment
• Rational thinking
• Integration of emotion & critical thinking
• Ability to think clearly about long-term outcomes
• Global thinking vs. self-centered thinking

The young make good soldiers but what rational person would say that those deficient in these areas should have a major voice in national affairs.

Nomas on December 12, 2012 at 9:58 AM

arand on December 12, 2012 at 9:57 AM

ignorantarian I think covers the Dems too. I’d say about ooooooooh – 52% of America is ignorantarian

Slade73 on December 12, 2012 at 10:01 AM

The young make good soldiers but what rational person would say that those deficient in these areas should have a major voice in national affairs.

Nomas on December 12, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Science tells us Global Warming is a consensus too. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi still haven’t hit 25 years I guess.

Slade73 on December 12, 2012 at 10:03 AM

It was libertarians who complained about the Patriot Act, use of drones, and quite a few other topics in 2008. Yet in 2012, where were they? Where were those on the Left who complained about these under Bush? And the bank bailout squawkers on the Left and libertarian areas? These policies did no change under Obama and, in all instances, were expanded and deepened.

There are principled civil libertarians out there and we hear a few of them. Yet if libertarianism is to stand on principles, then where is the soul searching amongst the libertarian community for how the things they stood against as policy issues in one election could not play a central role for libertarians in the very next one because the very issues had not changed. Indeed they could claim vindication that all the bailouts of banks and auto industry actually made civil liberties worse for bond holders and contravened the normal course of lawful procedures in bankruptcies. With the expansion of DHS they could also claim vindication that creation of such a mega-agency would lead to increasing encroachment of civil liberties in travel and domestic surveillance and not just under the Patriot Act.

Perhaps the principled civil libertarians saw little reason to vote for either mainstream candidate and that a protest vote would just ‘encourage the system’? I truly do not know. If the libertarians could beat off the big-government ‘social insurance’ attempt to create liberaltarians, then how do you get to any slim majority for Obama amongst libertarians? Or were the libertarians deluding themselves and they now have a Progressive cohort flying the banner of ‘libertarian’ but no want of actually being libertarian outside of marijuana use? If libertarianism is boiled down to just that, then it is a woebegone group. Yet it still has more than just the Pauls, and Cato still serves as a vibrant laboratory of analysis and insight not just for libertarians but how the issues of State and legislation play out in society.

Truly I suspect the methodology of the poll is flawed… otherwise it indicates that the liberaltarians… the Progressives trying to gain inroads in libertarianism… have taken a major portion of libertarians and are trying to turn civil rights into something the State owns, not the individual. If libertarians wish to continue to castigate conservatives for not doing enough introspection on what conservatism is, then perhaps libertarians just might want to do the same with themselves and see just what is going on beneath their banner, as well. Who knows what they might find if they start asking around?

Conservatives found the TR Progressives alive and well in the Republican party, along with the go-along, get-along lesser Progressives after such forced introspection started due to the Tea Party invasion. Surely, if conservatives can start identifying the Progressives within their ranks, then the libertarians should be able to do the same in the name of protecting civil liberty from the State and the basic recognition that all rights flow from the individual, not from the State? Maybe a few libertarian conclaves held locally, in States and regionally just might help to thrash things out a bit. Why there might even be a strongly federalist and limited government strain within libertarianism that can place that down as common ground with a number of conservatives and Tea Partiers… wouldn’t a consensus candidate with general broad agreement be an interesting outcome and one based on the rights of individuals to express themselves, congregate freely and have open discussion, too! Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change from elitist orthodoxy all the way around?

ajacksonian on December 12, 2012 at 10:44 AM

I would have voted for Hillary Clinton before I would have voted for a fake like Romney.

air_up_there on December 11, 2012 at 11:47 PM

Now there’s irony. You would rather have voted for the congenital liar than a fake like Romney.

tom on December 12, 2012 at 11:03 AM

I think the real issue is just their age. Even the conservative column was a net win for Obama.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this has more to do with low information voters (pot supporters likely have no idea what Obama’s actually done on the issue – it was Romney who got asked about medical marijuana during the election after all, not Obama) and the fact that Obama’s a celebrity who hangs out with Beyonce and Jay Z. Even not getting leg thrills over Obama makes you stand out in younger circles.

Esthier on December 12, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Too freaking funny. Constitution!!! Dante?!?! Floating Rock!?!?

Bmore on December 11, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Did you miss the part where the respondents didn’t call themselves libertarian?

Obvious caveat here: The voters described as “libertarian” didn’t self-identify that way. They’re presumptive libertarians based on the fact that they prefer small government and legal weed — not a bad rough gauge of political sympathies, but surely not foolproof.

Fail.

Dante on December 12, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Some conservatives I know think libertarianism is less a serious ideological commitment than an affectation of certain social liberals who relish the idea of political independence.

That is true for a lot of people, but that came out of fashion when Bush left office, so this actually does still surprise me a little. With Obama in the White House, it was no longer cool to be libertarian, so you’d think there’d be more principled libertarians.

But then again, maybe there are. This poll might have been even worse 4 years ago.

Esthier on December 12, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Apparently, libertarian voters were Let It Burners BEFORE “Let It Burn!”

mintycrys on December 12, 2012 at 11:40 AM

So, the youth vote is uninformed, perhaps even stupid. And there is no automatic exception for libertarian youth.

applebutter on December 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Translation: these “young libertarians” are people who think with their gonads, not their brains.

Oh, well, it’s nice to know they’re going to deserve the screwing they’re going to get.

Greg Q on December 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM

The bottom line is that the socon agenda is poison. As usual.

Even though much of the socon stuff Romney got tagged with was a mirage concocted by the liberal media. It was enough to make many low info types go to Obama.

Moesart on December 12, 2012 at 11:58 AM

The real problem is that in a Venn diagram of political beliefs there are at least 4 fundamentally different positions. The two parties do not divide among these 4 positions easily so almost no one can clearly state how the party they vote for matches to their actual political beliefs.

Resolute on December 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM

I’ve gotten into a few arguments on here over the course of the election but I knew the idiotic “legalize it!” and gay marriage “libertarians” were frauds.

Daemonocracy on December 12, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Obvious caveat here: The voters described as “libertarian” didn’t self-identify that way

just another cheap shot at Libertarians

burserker on December 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM

just another cheap shot at Libertarians

burserker on December 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM

That’s what you get with the Establishment bootlickers.

Dante on December 12, 2012 at 3:49 PM

judgmental idiots

Irritable Pundit on December 12, 2012 at 9:53 AM

There’s your problem: Social conservatives are no more judgmental than anyone else, and certainly less so than the liberals who judge you for failing to bow down at the altar of Gaia or daring to think there might be something to 30,000 years of male-female human pairing. they’re also no stupider than anyone else, including people who really believe that the solution to our economic problems is more spending.

SoCons suffer from the same brand and image problems as the larger party. The stereotypes do not accurately reflect the beliefs and priorities of the average socon. This should not be surprising.

alwaysfiredup on December 12, 2012 at 6:58 PM

just another cheap shot at Libertarians

burserker on December 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM

…because libertarians never take cheap shots against socons?

“Do unto others” and all that jazz.

alwaysfiredup on December 12, 2012 at 7:00 PM

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