Sixty-one percent of libertarians do not identify themselves as part of the Tea Party, the survey showed. About 7 percent of the adult population is consistently libertarian and that includes 12 percent of those who describe themselves as Republicans.

“There’s largely agreement on economic issues – the gap is in how libertarians approach social issues, ” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI, which conducts an annual “American Values Survey” on political and social issues.

While the survey showed that libertarians tend to favor Republicans, they are a swing group that can turn away from the party if it starts to favor too much government spending or interference with individual liberties, said Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.

“Libertarians are not part of the Democratic Party’s base, that’s for sure, but they’re not a reliable part of the Republican Party’s vote,” said Lindsey, who saw the survey. “Republicans can scare away libertarian voters.”